Sept. 12, 2018 —
Area residents are used to visitors from around the world stopping in for a meal in Historic Old Town Florence or a walk on one of the many beautiful beaches in the area. Most of these travelers enjoy the time they spend here and continue on with their journey.
However, others so enjoy the experience that they decide to make Florence a larger, more permanent part of their lives.
Yusupha “Joseph” Dukuari, an entrepreneur from Africa, is one of those individuals.
“I love coming to Florence,” he said. “The boardwalk is so nice. I started here three years ago, and I love returning each spring and summertime for the market. The people have been very nice, and my business has grown each year I have been here.”
Dukuari comes to the port’s market to sell a wide variety of basket types that have long been used in Africa for carrying food and supplies. The need to carry products long distances has made the quality and desirability of these well-made baskets a strong selling point.
Before he left at the end of August, Dukuari continued to welcome people to his booth, chock-full of beautifully woven baskets. His hundreds of baskets sported many patterns, some reflecting the Islamic culture of the land of his youth, Namibia.
Some baskets were obviously utilitarian, with thick cords of twine and leather woven together to create a strong carrying container.
Other designs were much finer in both materials and design elements.
In addition, a number of baskets had patterns drawn from nature. Others took a familiar yet complex pattern and repeated it, while slightly altering the lines and shapes in the design.
The colors in Dukuari’s woven offerings ran the gamut from deep royal purple to almost fluorescent pinks and oranges.
At Florence’s market, people have expressed that they purchase the baskets because they are not plastic and are of high quality.
“These are very popular right now,” Dukuari agreed. “They are strong and hold many items.”
He selects works from across the world to sell in Florence, focusing on attention to detail and quality workmanship.
“I am getting ready to go to back to Africa after the market ends,” Dukuari said. “I will go to Gambia and visit my family. Then I will go to see the people that I know that make baskets, they are in Ghana. I will go and stay with them while I restock and resupply and prepare my shipment for America.”
Although he has been spending time in the Pacific Northwest over the past few years, Dukuari originally went in a different direction.
The young entrepreneur was inspired by the example of neighbors and family friends who sought to improve their livelihoods by moving abroad. In his village, people would decide to leave to try and improve the chances they would be able to live a good life.
Dukuari followed in their footsteps, with some course adjustments along the way. He first moved to Europe, but realized that he must come to the U.S. to really grow his business.
“This has been going on for 50 years or more, long before I was born. I saw this as I was growing up and I knew I could make money doing this,” he said. “I lived in Europe for nine years before I came to America, and then I came here to do business. And business is good!”
Although Dukuari has already left on his travels, the Port of Siuslaw Boardwalk Market will still be open for weekends in September before closing for the season.