Where To Buy Authentic African Art And Crafts in Uganda
With more than 55 different tribes each with a unique culture, heritage, arts, and crafts, Uganda is one of the ethnically diverse African nations and tourists on a safari have a lot to explore. Uganda’s craftsmanship takes particularly various forms such as weaving, pottery, fabrics, wood carving to produce some of the unique and quality craft products. Before you buy a souvenir, here are important tips to consider.
- Buy a souvenir that is easy to pack
- Avoid illegal items such as ivory or rhino horn made crafts.
- The best places to buy souvenirs are the craft shops and markets, art galleries in Kampala city, and communities around Uganda National Parks.
Note that even if you may not want to shop big, visiting those places is an experience on its own but more importantly we encourage you to buy souvenirs because it helps those involved to earn income and support their families and business.
African crafts stores are common all over Uganda, but no town has as many of these stores as Kampala does. Whether you are looking for carvings, baskets, weavings, and African fabrics and already made attires, there are several shops to choose from in Kampala.
Where do these crafts come from?
The markets although predominantly carrying Uganda crafts often have a mix of artifacts from neighboring countries such as DRC and Kenya. Not many foreigners can tell the difference between the items from the different countries, but it doesn’t matter much because at the end of the day, what you have is a beautiful piece of Africa to remember your trip by. Most of the items such as jewels, drums, carved items, greeting cards, and weapons such as spears are handmade. Selling arts and crafts is a source of livelihood for many who do it, and purchases made by tourists will impact entire families. It is good to remember that you could be changing someone’s life as you buy that painting. There is such a variety made out of various materials like barkcloth, banana leaves, paper, wood, paintings by different artists, and batiks you need to visit some of these shops and markets to fully explore and enjoy the displays.
Where can you find interesting African art and crafts in Kampala?
There is a lot of genuine art found in stores in Kampala and some internationally acclaimed artists’ work is displayed in some of the art galleries in Uganda’s capital. Some of the popular arts and crafts stores in Kampala are listed below;
Exposure Africa This is perhaps the biggest crafts market in Kampala. It has more than 30 stalls selling a variety of items. It is found on Buganda road, next to daisy’s arcade. Most of the items displayed here are from Uganda and Kenya. You can find a variety of artifacts in this one place, which makes it a good shopping stop for a foreigner looking for a keepsake of Uganda or Africa. Be sure to compare prices of the same or similar items in other stores so you can get a good bargain. Remember your purchases are making a difference in someone’s life.
Uganda Crafts-2000 LTD This crafts market is found at DLCO-EA House on Bombo road, in Kampala. It is a not for profit trade fair that creates and offers jobs for the disabled, disadvantaged, marginalized, and orphans living with HIV/AIDs. Items sold here are made from wood, banana leaves, cane, leather, and many more materials found on the continent. There are crafts from Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya Uganda
Arts & Crafts Village The arts and crafts village is found behind the National Theater in Kampala. It is a collection of stalls and shops that sell various African items. Some of these include wood carvings, some leather crafts, Ugandan made clothing mostly shirts and dresses, and some small chairs and tables. There is often a mixture of kitsch and good handicrafts you have to be careful to tell the difference. The prices are quite fair in this arts and crafts village, but there is very little bargaining done here.
Friday Craft Market This is more like a market day. This craft market happens every Friday along Ggaba road in Nsambya. The best part about this market is that you are more often than not dealing with the artisans rather than resellers. This makes it easier to get good prices and relatively better bargains than in the stores. Exploring the market and bargaining with the sellers can be quite enjoyable on these market days, and you can come across some awesome pieces of African culture. So take time off your Uganda safari and go to the Friday craft market.
Banana Boat: Banana boat has artifacts from various African countries. You will find batiks, jewelry, greeting cards, carvings, metal art and so much more from all across Africa. Banana boat stores are located in various locations mainly in upscale shopping malls such as garden city shopping mall and the Lugogo mall in Kisementi. Unfortunately, there is no bargaining here and the prices are a little on the higher side, but you will still enjoy the shopping experience.
Nommo Gallery Nommo gallery is located in Nakasero near the Sheraton hotel. It has a collection of interesting art for the avid art collector. It is also Uganda’s national gallery so you can be sure to find fine artworks from various East African artists. A visit to the gallery should be on your Uganda safari itinerary. There are a few other privately owned art galleries that you might find with some good artwork and paintings. There are many more places in Kampala that offer arts and crafts and friendly prices. All you have to do to find them is to keep your eyes open as you explore the city, you will be pleasantly surprised. The one exciting thing about shopping in Kampala is the seller-buyer bargaining dance, it is very interesting and a joy to experience.