The Festive Season is upon us, and spoiling one’s nearest and dearest is part of what makes this season so special. Not only have we rounded up the top products that caught our eye in 2015 to inspire you with stunning gift choices, but we also made sure that the items we have found are meaningful and thoughtful. After all, gift giving in itself is a generous act, but when time and thought has gone into the choosing of the gift it makes the whole process more memorable. In keeping with our passion for the continent, everything we have chosen is “Made in Africa”.
1. Beautiful books
A Nigerian journey through the lens by Temi Coker, a freelance photographer and graphic designer who lives in the DFW. In this magnificent limited edition coffee table book he captures the voices and stories of the people of Lagos in a series of emotive black and white photographs.
The beautiful matte pictures offer a peek into the souls of Nigeria, the beauty of the people and the place, a raw yet positive spin on a country that has had bad press for too long.
The Lion Awakes: Adventures in Africa’s Economic Miracle
My favourite read of the year, The Lion Awakes: Adventures in Africa’s Economic Miracle by Ashish Takker, is a must for those who wish to find out all about Africa’s business climate and where it is headed.
Takker, who is Ugandan born, offers an inside look into Africa through the stories of the continent’s next generation of innovative entrepreneurs and self-starters. His book offers a positive spin on Africa, its economy and political future over the past two decades.
Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl
This book by Pierre Tham is an informative, colourful book which offers a journey through the tiny country of Senegal on Africa’s west coast, through its food. The tastes of Portugal and France are evident in the country’s traditions, as Senegal was a Portuguese colony and a French one for more than 400 years. But there are also Asian influences, as many Vietnamese came to live In Senegal during French rule, not to mention African inspiration.
The result is a pot pourri of delicious tastes and flavors, all iconic to the region, with smatterings of history thrown in to explain their origins. There are traditional recipes, as well as imaginative takes on the authentic African tastes. Chef Pierre Thiam uses ingredients that are familiar to us but combines them in innovative ways to create a range of dishes that will be a joy to grace your table.
Colourful, stylish traditional head wraps for every occasion. The online store, called The Wrap Life, was created by Nnenna Stella in Brooklyn, New York, and offers thousands of vibrant handmade, hand-printed wraps. The proceeds go back to Lagos, Nigeria’s capital, to enrich the lives of the people who handcrafted these exquisite items.
In Los Angeles, finding the perfect handbag is a lifelong obsession. I have found some serious contenders. I discovered the latest collection, called BUYU, after seeing a photograph of actress Lupita Nyongo carrying one of these stylish, unique accessories. The BUYU Collection, which features some of the most stunning ranges of handbags and luggage I’ve come across, collaborates with women from Kenya’s Kyuso region who produce the beautiful woven fiber used to create these bags.
The woven fiber is then imported here to the US and combined with fine leather to create stylish, high quality, durable, unique and exquisitely crafted pieces. To me, they epitomize the perfect handbag, a handcrafted masterpiece created by an African artisan.
Africa’s first gourmet tea brand, Yswara, which is created in South Africa, is enjoyed by tea lovers around the world. Yswara offers a curated experience of fine African teas to palates all over the globe. Their signature blend, Or des Anges, contains 22 carat edible gold petals – this is luxury African tea as it has never been experienced before. Every detail of Yswara is woven together to create an exceptional experience tinged with the splendour of Africa and infused with the passionate vision of its elegant Ivorian founder, Swaady Martin-Leke, who was named by Forbes Magazine in 2013 as one of the 20 most powerful young women in Africa.
Yswara comprises a collection of top quality, rare tea blends as well as tea accessories such as tea pots, tea warmers and fine gold teaspoons plus fine living goods such as candles. All Yswara products are made on African soil, including the sophisticated packaging and tea caddies that glow in deep copper.
Inspired by African traditions and plants, the Afya Zanzibar Skincare range offers men and women a collection of revolutionary products that are both science-based and combined with ethically sourced 100% organic and natural botanical formulations. Using African herbs and natural supplements and age-old traditions and remedies, these unique, innovative skin therapy products make an ideal gift.
Their stunning 3-in-1 gift set features three organic, natural botanicals inspired by Africa, including a rejuvenating body wash, exfoliating body scrub and lush, soothing body butter for moisturizing. It’s so luxurious I suggest you order an extra to pamper yourself with.
After exploring India, artist Katherine-Mary returned home to Cape Town, South Africa, inspired by the intimate relationship women have with jewellery throughout Africa and the Middle East. She then created a range of exquisite, hand-crafted bespoke neckpieces and jewellery using locally manufactured ropes and interesting materials under the name Pichulik. The results are a collection of vibrantly colored statement pieces created for bold, courageous women like herself.
Every item is made to order by hand in Cape Town and shipped free worldwide.
Designer Laduma Ngxokolo’s stunning range of knitwear, called Maxhosa by Laduma, was inspired by Xhosa traditions where young men have to don brand new, dignified, formal clothing for six months after their manhood initiation.
The range includes premium knitwear for men and women that celebrates traditional Xhosa aesthetic and includes extraordinary beadwork patterns favoured by the African tribe, as well as symbolism and colors. The result is a wearable, warm collection of modern knitwear pieces, scarves and shawls all handcrafted in Africa.
KISUA is an innovative showcase for Africa’s fashion designer talent, an e-commerce site that offers limited edition pieces from different designers from all over the continent. The brand, which means “well dressed person” in Swahili, was created by Samuel Mensah in 2013, and its success is legendary.
These days, KISUA also has pop up stores around Africa, but most of its customers from all over the world use the website to buy designer pieces from established and up and coming designers from as far afield as the DRC, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana. Stars like Beyonce are already purchasing items from KISUA, and as you can see from the stunning photographs here – Introducing African fashion to the world has just gotten so much easier!