June 28, 2021
2 Min. Read

The new "it"-bag from Africa

The women's co-operative Moto (Swahili for fire) has existed for 20 years. Their new bags are indeed as hot as fire.

Raffia bags with fringes are in fashion all over the world. A co-operative from Pete has created some great models made from palm stripes now on sale in Zanzibar. 

About 20 years ago, a German development worker, Antje Förstle, encouraged local mat weavers to start producing mkekas and bags not only for their own day-to-day use but for sale to tourists. "She taught the villagers basic marketing strategies and slowly built up the production of the hand-made products with them," says Dida, the sympathetic and self-confident manager of Moto, who is 24 years old and currently studying for his business degree at Zanzibar University.  

Baskets, bags and carpets are made from palm stripes, which are harvested, dried, dyed (using only natural dyes) and woven on site. Depending on the size, it takes about a week until one high-quality product, made with traditional patterns, is finished. “It’s a real artesanian skill”, says Dida.

The co-operative also weaves blankets. Cotton is bought from the mainland and made into wonderful soft blankets with amazing colours. Over the years the business has grown and more people in more villages became involved. At the moment, says Dida, about 200 workers, mainly but not only women, male a living with `moto Zanzibar` in ten villages around Pete near Jozani Forest, where the production place is located. Antje Förstle also taught them to make soaps and jams. 

All of this can be bought at `moto Zanzibar` in Stone Town, Hurumzi street. 50 per cent of the proceeds are invested, and 50 per cent go directly to the villagers. Whoever buys here does not only get durable commodities but supports sustainable and ecological production. `Moto' (Kiswahili for fire) stands for the fact that the palm trees around Pete, which are used for the production, would probably have fallen victim to slash-and-burn if the people here had not found another possibility to live from their hands' work with a real perspective.

The production sites in and around Pete can be visited on a guided tour; and there is a small craft museum there - it's worth it!

Angelika Dubiel


416 Hurumzi street, Stone Town

Contact shop Hurumzi street: +255 779 388 254

Contact workshop Pete: +255 773 031 178online shop: https://motozanzibar.wordpress.com/

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