Swahili News

Basket Weaving in Senegal

Women and men (and one very cute baby!) sit in an information circle to weave Swahili Modern's African baskets for late 2015. Native birds can be heard chriping in the background. 

Container Day!

We just received a container from Senegal that is packed full of new African baskets. Everyone in the office and warehouse comes together to get these babies unloaded in quick time: our record is 1.5 hours. 

One of the new baskets we received is a Leather Lidded Senegal Basekt. We hope you like it as much as we do!



Familiar Baskets at a Market in Paris

Because Senegal's official language is French, Parisians frequently travel to Dakar to enjoy the colorful culture and music scene. Dakar is a wonderful city to visit, especially if you speak French or Wolof!

Our last trip home routed us through Paris, so we stopped to take in the scenery. At a home goods market, we immediately recognized a version of the Senegalese baskets that we sell.

Though priced similarly as ours, these baskets used less plastic, a looser weave, and larger bundles of grass. All of these techniques result in lower costs and less labor.  

Here is a close-up pic of our White Lidded African Basket for comparison:

For a few years now, we've been seeing these loosely woven baskets at markets in Senegal, so it was not surprising to see the baskets on the streets of Paris.

How did seeing the baskets make us feel? A little mixed! We are always in support of African craftspeople selling goods to make a living and we appreciate seeing ingenuity that results in lower costs.

However, we also strongly support the practice of fair trade. Often cheaper goods, like these baskets and like all of the cheap goods that we consume, are made by less experienced artisans who are not paid adequately. 

We also hope that these baskets do not come to represent the modern artistry of the country as a whole because some amazing products are coming out of Senegal! For years, we have come to know Senegalese artisans as some of the most talented and hard working people on this planet.

Pictured below is Marieme, one of the fair trade artisans we work with in a remote village outside of Dakar. Besides being an expert weaver, Marieme is also a wonderful designer and helps us to bring beautifully crafted, high quality Senegalese baskets to a larger market. 

Featured in HGTV Magazine!

We are delighted to have not one, but two African baskets featured in the September 2015 edition of HGTV Magazine

The baskets are hand-woven in Senegal and are fair trade. This Yellow & Silver Warming Basket is ideal for shelf storage, especially scarves, hats, and craft supplies. The basket's domed lid adds a surprising amount of extra space.

One of our most popular African baskets is our this Large Lidded African Basket in green and blue. This large, colorful basket is most often used as a laundry hamper or for large storage. Beautifully hand-woven and designed to last for decades, these large baskets add style and utility to your home.

East African "Dawa Medicine" Cocktail Recipe

"Dawa" is the Swahili word for medicine. These mixing sticks are new to our African Kitchen & Dining and are used for creating the famous East African Dawa Cocktail. The sticks are hand-carved and made from neem, which is a healing wood. Recipe:

1-2 shots of vodka
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Chunks of fresh lime
Small chunks of broken ice

Put all of the ingredients into a glass and muddle well with the Dawa Sticks. Enjoy!

African Decor: Field Notes

We recently had the great pleasure of staying a night at a resort in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya. The decor was stunning and, if you strive for an organic home with an African touch, we hope these pictures give you inspiration for your next project.

The rooms are chalet style and made from natural materials. 

The view from the lodge. 

Do you see the elephants? 

Thanks for looking! Please check out our products in African Decor to find that special design element to give your home the warmth and joy of Africa. 

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!


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