Local start-ups give craft a new meaning
From shopping baskets and exotic mirrors to ohhh-so-sweet scented candles – artisan producers are popping up in Tanzania. We met some exceptional ones at Fumba Town’s own market
The candle lady
“Every time she’s at the market, I have to buy a candle or two”, says Rosemary, a new Fumba resident and happy costumer of “Manucato Scents”, the brainchild of Josephine Farahani from Arusha. With her neatly designed scented candles, moisturising body oils and soaps - bearing promising names such as “safari lover” or “capuccino”- the 30-year-old has clearly reached a professional level. And that’s no wonder: Josephine is a medical lab technician by profession and was inspired, she says, by “Inaya”, Zanzibar’s first eco cosmetic firm. Both share a super-professional production line. “My bee and soya wax candles burn well”, Josephine assures customers, using only high-quality baobab and lemongrass oils from suppliers. She maintains two stores in Arusha and Dar, and sells online. The candles come in nine flavours and Josephine generously shares her production knowledge in workshops with clients: “I give away my recipes”, she says with a smile – but doing it to her perfection is another matter.
The mega weaver
Majid Kumba is no doubt a big guy and a big guy it seems, thinks big. And out-of-the box. The 38-year old family man, a traditional mkeka and jamvi weaver from Mikunguni in Zanzibar, has somehow woven himself beyond standard colour schemes and sizes, and now presents, successfully, mega-mirrors with a wild straw frame spanning more than 1,50 metres in width. Find a bathroom for that! The giant beauties sell “like wildfire”, Majiid, happily claims in Swahili. And so do his mkeka’s in plain beige, his straw paper bins, lamps, house décor, and oud stands, all running under his label “Bin Majid Cultural Products”.
We spotted not one, but two up-and-coming basket makers at the Fumba markets, Patricia from “Kukaye Crafts” and “The Mafia Mamas”. Immaculately woven handbags, laundry bags, market bags, beach bags and storage bags have given Kukaye arts & craft a solid following of more than 5000 fans on Instagram. The designer from Dar es Salaam sells at major stores and fashion outlets. Sweet is her tag line: ”Building better live hood through crafts – African stories to the world”. - The “Mafia Mamas” stem, of course, from Mafia island where chief designer Samira Mafia owns the New Bweni Beach Lodge. It takes her a whole long day travelling by ferry and bus to Fumba market, her bags and bathroom mats in toe which come in unusual shapes and colours, like a feisty plain lilac. “No problem”, the well-known entrepreneur says, “I like travelling and exploring.” And we like her bags!