Swahili News

Brand New Basket Designs from Senegal!

After months of formulation and shipping, we are so excited that our new designs are finally here. Here are some pics of the staff unloading them from the container. We hope you like what you see and would love to hear your suggestions for future designs!

 

African Innovation: A Battery Wrapped in a Cell Phone

In the States, our phones are always getting thinner and slicker, but in Ghana, innovative minds are thinking differently. Recently, there has been a surge in cell phones so bulky that they even include a handle. But do you know what else these giant phones include? 

-a power bank battery to charge small electronics

-a USB port for charging

-an FM radio

-an LED flashlight

-3 SIM cards slots

-pre-installed WhatsApp and Facebook apps

All of these features have incredible value in Ghana at the moment. Sweeping power outages can last for a week, so having a power bank for your devices is a necessity. The flashlight and radio also come in handy when there is no power.

Why three SIM card slots? Ghanaians use them to take advantage of promotional offers and also to maintain different phone numbers, and this giant cell phone is a handy place to store the cards. 

This phone is one of the the things that we love most about Africa: innovation. Even though the phones are likely manufactured in China, some bright minds in Ghana thought "Let's ignore the thin iPhone trend and make a phone that our countrymen actually need." This thinking paid off: the phones are incredibly popular and seen everywhere in Accra. 

You can read more in-depth info at http://qz.com/411330/the-mystery-of-the-power-bank-phone-taking-over-ghana/

Preparing African Baskets for Shipment

Quality control is important to us, and all of our products are checked by many hands before leaving Africa, as they come into our warehouse, and before they are shipped to you.

Here's a quick video of longtime employee TJ and his process of cleaning up a basket. Thanks for watching!

Admiring Baskets at a Market in Senegal

Senegalese craftswomen have excelled at using simple materials - plastic strips and natural grasses - to create baskets of stunning color and variety. Whenever we travel to Senegal (about 2-3 times a year), we work with the women to develop designs that are geared towards a US market.

The domed lid style (above) is a traditional Senegalese shape and requires a great deal of talent to form the lid.

Outdoor markets like this one outside of Dakar offer baskets in every color of the rainbow. The domed lid style (above) is a traditional Senegalese shape and requires a great deal of talent to form the lid. 

Senegalese hampers with modern designs. http://www.swahilimodern.com/

Over the last year, we have been working with the weavers to develop "stair step" and chevron designs. Aren't they lovely? These pictured baskets are samples in progress. 

Which styles do you like the best? Let us know in the comments so that we can have the baskets shipped back and put on the site!

Win Three Sisal Dove Ornaments for Easter!

This sweet set of Sisal Doves adds both meaning and beauty to your Easter celebrations. Handcrafted in Kenya, the doves feature wings and bodies made from banana leaves and fluffy tails made from sisal fibers. Each dove is fair trade and one-of-a-kind.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One set of birds will be given to a randomly selected winner on 03/18/15. Thank you for entering and checking out our site!

A special thank you to Lucky Contests, Contest Girl, ContestBee, SweepsAdvantage, SweepstakesBug, InfiniteSweeps, OnlineSweepstakes, DoublePrizes, About Contests, Cool Freebie Links, I Love Giveaways, Sandy's Realm, and Pinterest, for helping us to promote for this contest!

Celebrating Easter in Africa

With over 70 million Christians in Africa, Easter is an important holiday that is celebrated in a number of countries. 

Every year, Easter Vigil starts on the preceding Thursday and involves a daily ritual of prayer and song lasting from 3-6 PM. Churches are decorated with butterflies, banana tree art, and Kanga cloth while Christian hymns are sung to the beating of African drums. 

In Ethiopia, Easter or "Fasika" is one of the most revered holidays and is celebrated after 56 day period of fasting where no meat or animal products of any kind are consumed.

After Easter mass, celebrants partake in dances and lavish meals. Both Christians and non-Christians come together to indulge in roasted chicken, goat, and rice dishes. Despite Easter being a religious holiday, it is also regarded as a time of social communion. 

Easter is also celebrated through local artwork, and we are proud to carry many fair trade, African Easter products. For instance, this is a solid-soapstone egg from Kenya:

 Solid Soapstone Easter Egg

These hand-carved soapstone Easter eggs from Kenya are presented in a banana fiber box:

Banana Fiber Box of African Easter Eggs

Angels and doves are also prominent Easter themes, such as these delicate dove ornaments made from sisal and banana fiber:

Wherever your location or religious affiliation is, we wish you a happy Easter season and spring! Thank you for reading and supporting fair trade in Africa. 

An Unexpected Purchase of Antique Makenge Baskets

This week we purchased a large collection of rare, antique makenge baskets from a collector in Zambia. These are very special baskets, often considered collector's items, and have great meaning and history.

The tradition is for new brides in the Upper Zambesi region of Zambia to receive the beautiful yet practical gif of a makenge root basket as a wedding gift. The heirloom is so durable that the same basket can be used and passed down in the family for over 100 years!

Many of the baskets we received will need some repairs, but most are in pristine shape. We can't wait to show them to you!

 

Once we sort through and repair the baskets, they will be offered on the site. These baskets are highly coveted by designers and make beautiful wall art!

We will of course give our retail customers the first opportunity to purchase one of these exceptional baskets. If you are interested in advance, please email us at info@swahilimodern.com.

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