Start Submission Become a Reviewer

Reading: The Evolution and Resilience of the Gusii Soapstone Industry


A- A+
Alt. Display

Research Article

The Evolution and Resilience of the Gusii Soapstone Industry


John Akama

Geography and Tourism Stdies, Kisii University, KE
About John
Mallion Onyambu is currently pursuing her PhD in African History at Moi University, Kenya.
John Akama is Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies and is currently the Vice-Chancellor of Kisii University, Kenya.
X close


The Gusii soapstone industry is one of the oldest traditional craft industry in Kenya. The history of the industry dates back to hundreds and perhaps thousands of years ago (Ongesa, 2011). Initially made as traditional handicraft products for local use, the soapstone products have been transformed into tourist items that are sold to both domestic and international tourists who visit Kenya and are sold in handcraft shops all over the world. The aim of this paper is twofold: first, to provide an historical analysis on the transformation of these soapstone products from items that had mainly utility value to handicraft attractions that are sold to tourists; second, to examine the role of the industry in promoting sustainable livelihood among the people of Tabaka area of Kisii county. Data for this paper was acquired through in-depth conversational interview schedules with selected soapstone producers and sellers, structured conversation with key informants and field observations. The research also provides recommendations that can guide policy formation for the sustainable development of the soapstone industry in Kenya.
How to Cite: Akama, J., 2018. The Evolution and Resilience of the Gusii Soapstone Industry. Journal of African Cultural Heritage Studies, 1(1), pp.1–17. DOI:
Published on 14 Aug 2018.
Peer Reviewed


  • PDF (EN)