Swahili News

The Making of Ghanaian Xylophones

We are fortunate to carry Percussion Xylophones by world-famous musician and master xylophone maker, Christopher Doozie. Despite his humble, outdoor workshop in Accra, Ghana, Doozie makes some of the most highly desired xylophones in the world. You can find his xylophones sold at US museums and even used in the Broadway production of The Lion King.

Doozie is proud of his craft and shares his trade secrets in this ten minute video. We get a first-hand look at the making of these amazing instruments that Doozie crafts using only gourds, wood, and twine. 

Doozie also plays a different sized xylophones to demonstrate their varying sounds. It is a joy to hear this master musician play an instrument made with his own hands, and we are left in appreciation that these traditional Ghanaian instruments have stood the test of time and are still gracing the world with their peaceful, joyful music. 

Anthropologie and the Power of Brand

Our Brass Safari Wine Stoppers were recently picked up by Anthropologie and, to our delight, sold out more quickly than expected. Since that time, the few remaining wine stoppers that we have on the site are also selling at a rapid pace, which we found to be surprising since the stoppers that we shipped to Anthropologie did not bear our brand name. A quick stop by Google Analytics shows that people are arriving at our site by searching for "Anthropologie wine stoppers." Clearly Anthropologie has a very committed following of shoppers!

But the fun does not stop there. A little more internet sleuthing revealed that the stoppers are now being sold on Ebay, some to the tune of $25! These Ebay sellers must have purchased the bottle stoppers in-store (for $12 a piece) then waited for them to sell out before listing them online. 

While we would like to think that these South African stoppers are selling based on their own appeal, the power and reach of Anthropologie's brand is clearly the driving force behind this wine stopper frenzy. We hope to one day have a similar customer following based on trust in our good taste and unique product selection, which have been the two factors that have established Anthropologie as a trendsetter. 

In the mean time, we urge you to pick up a wine stopper - at $8 - before the Ebayers snatch them up!

June 26, 2014

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Fair Trade for the World Cup

A cherished sport on every continent, soccer is finally gaining a large fan base in the US. This year's World Cup is drawing more fans than ever, with 25.2 million people tuning in to watch the US vs Portugal game. The height of US viewership at the 2010 World Cup was 19.4 million. 

As I write this, like most Americans right now, I have the US vs Germany game playing in the background. Even though I am not a hardcore soccer fan, the game is incredibly exciting. Two bars across from my office are teeming with jubilant fans, all drinking their liquid lunches and ooh'ing and ah'ing with every move. There is an energy in the air and a sense of nationalism. 

Adding even more joy to the occasion,the Senda soccer balls used for the World Cup are Fair Trade Certified. How great is that? These limited edition balls are designed only for this Brazil World Cup and are a great tool to raise awareness for Fair Trade. 

At Swahili, we also have a small Fair Trade contribution to make to the World Cup: our Spark Plug Soccer Star has an uncanny resemblance to midfielder - and dreaded heartthrob - Kyle Beckerman!


You can pick up your own mini Beckerman at http://www.swahilimodern.com/collections/recycled-art/products/spark-plug-athlete-sculptures

Thanks for your support and go Team USA!

Enter to Win Virgin Sudanese Shea Butter!

Lulu Life Shea Butter is first-press, cold-pressed shea butter made by hand in Sudan using organic lulu nuts. Valued at $30, this coveted "skin miracle" moisturizes and transforms your skin, making it softer and more even in tone over time. The shea butter is created using traditional Sudanese methods in order to safeguard all the natural, bioactive benefits of Grade A shea butter.

We are hosting this special contest in honor of Mother's Day, so that two lucky winners can give Mom the gift of radiant skin! Two winners will each receive one 3.3 oz tub of Lulu Life Body Butter. While you can use this emollient butter on your body, we prefer to use it on our face at night so that we wake up feeling and looking beautiful :) 

Gain up to seven entries to win! The contest will begin on April 21st at 5 PM and end on April 28th at 4 PM, and is open to all US residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A special thanks to SweepsAdvantage, PinterestLucky Contests, Contest Girl, ContestBee, OnlineSweepstakes, and Reddit Contests for helping us to promote this contest!

Kenya to Be Featured in the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

If you live in the DC area, be sure to visit this year's famous Folklife Festival, where Kenya will be a main feature. This free festival is held outdoors on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., between the Smithsonian museums. The dates of the festival are June 25th-June 29th and July 2nd-July 6th. 

According to the Festival's website, "visitors will be able to interact with exemplary craftspeople who work with everything from clay to soapstone to recycled materials, learn about important fossil discoveries by taking part in a model dig site from the Great Rift Valley, run with Kenya’s Olympic athletes, dance to both traditional and contemporary music from many regions of the country, discover how Kenyans live among and work with some of the most magnificent wildlife on the continent, and experience Kenyan life in the United States."

"All of this will take place in venues and spaces that reflect the creative and dynamic experiences of the Kenyan people, whether they live in urban or rural, coastal or inland environments."

Sounds amazing to us! And knowing the Smithsonian's high standard of quality, this will be an absolutely beautiful production. Please do visit if you get the chance and be sure to send us your photos!

Meeting with Paul Njoronge in Kenya

On our recent trip to Kenya, we had the pleasure of meeting with Paul Njoronge, who is the artist behind our popular Hand-Painted Rocking Birds. Paul is an amazing guy and one of the friendliest - and most fascinating - people you'll ever meet. Paul has dedicated his life to the study of Kenyan birdlife. He is intimately familiar with all of the bird species in Nairobi and beyond, and he uses this knowledge to recreate realistic bird sculptures.

Here is Paul pictured with Leslie, as they work on some new chicken designs. 

Thanks for working with us and spending the day with us, Paul!

Update 04/11/2014: We are devastated to learn that Paul passed away yesterday due to a complication with food being lodged in his throat. Paul was one of the kindest, smartest, and friendliest people on this planet. Our hearts ache for his loss. We will always remember Paul for his wonderful spirit and outstanding artwork. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in peace, Paul. We loved you.

Contest: Two Outdoor Dining Soapstone Sets!

Add some sunshine to your outdoor dining table with this trio of Fair Trade soapstone accessories! Valued at $40, each handcrafted set includes a Napkin Holder, Utensil Cup, and Tealight Holder. Two winners will each receive one set.

These colorful soapstone creations come to us from Kenya, where they are hand-carved from raw kisii stone and hand-dyed by artisans in Nairobi. Each piece is decorated with hand-etched sunburst designs. Gain up to seven entries to win! The contest will end at 4:30 PM on March 21st, 2014 and is open to all US residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A special thanks to SweepsAdvantage, PinterestLucky Contests, Contest Girl, ContestBee, OnlineSweepstakes, and Reddit Contests for helping us to promote this contest!

Congrats to Kayci S. and Eric C. for winning this contest, and thanks to everyone who participated!

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