Monday, October 1, 2012

A Gift from Africa

1. African paintings

Travel gifts

You can find colourful paintings of typical African scenes – both traditional and contemporary – almost everywhere you travel in Africa. While curio shops can charge a handsome fee for such paintings, you can negotiate more reasonable fees from talented local painters selling their artworks alongside the roads or in flea markets.

2. African Masks

Biombo Mask

An African mask displayed in your living room back home makes a dramatic memento of a trip to Africa! Tribal masks are more than decorative in African culture, playing a deeply symbolic role in African rituals and ceremonies. Many believe that the wearer of the mask absorbs some of its power – some African masks are beautiful, some scary, so choose yours carefully! You can buy these masks from art dealers and direct from the craftsmen in cultural markets.

African gifts

3. Beaded African fashion accessories

Africa is known for its brightly coloured beadwork. Beaded earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and sandals make fantastic gifts for the fashion conscious – who can wear these fashion accessories with pride, too. Many beadwork fashion accessories are made by local African women, as part of social upliftment projects.

4. Laugh it Off t-shirts

Africans are renowned for their great sense of humour – perhaps it’s our way of dealing with the particular challenges we face as a continent. If traditional African curios don’t do it for you, why not choose a travel gift with a gutsy social message which sums up contemporary local culture? Laugh It Off emblazons t-shirts and other merchandise with parodies of people, politicians, and brands found in Africa – with the aim of making a statement, effecting social change, and having a good laugh.

5. Wire toys

Industrious Africans, unable to afford expensive shop-bought toys, craft toys out of discarded wire. Nearly every South African child has owned at least one of these delightful wire toys – be it a motor car, airplane, bicycle, or radio. Wire toys make wonderful decorative pieces in the home, too.
African souvenirs

6. Wooden carvings

You can’t travel to Africa and not purchase a wooden carving. Traditional artists carve depictions of African game, like giraffes, elephants, hippo, rhino and lions, while contemporary artists prefer to craft abstract carvings. African wooden carvings range in scale, to small pieces which fit in your hand luggage, to massive structures which take several men to move. Buy these from craft markets, curio stalls, or from eager entrepreneurs selling their wares along the roadside. Most airlines will allow you to check or carry on your wooden gift, depending on the size.

7. Woven baskets

Not only beautiful and practical, traditional African baskets are handwoven from the leaves of iLala Palms, found alongside streams and rivers. Sadly, this is an art form which is becoming increasingly rare – which makes finding the real thing an very special African travel gift, indeed.

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