Monday, 7 May 2007

Art and Design - Shopping in Dar es Salaam

Mawazo Art Gallery (Open Mondays to Saturdays, 10am to 5.30pm; Tel. 0784 78 27 70; e-mail:;; just next to YMCA on Upanga Road down town, is a must visit in Dar es Salaam. The Gallery is exclusively supporting artists from Tanzania, regularly holds exhibitions, and has a little shop adjoining with a careful selection of art work for sale, including beautiful coconut wood bowls and horn candle lights. Hopefully the delicious quiche lunches will soon start again!

The Wonder Welders – all living with the serious effects of polio - create lively metal art pieces from a hotch potch of recycled metals. Each piece – mainly animals – is different, and they also respond to individual clients wishes. Next to the workshop there are art pieces on sale, as well as in shops in Seacliff.

Great Leather goods, made in the North of Tanzania, including handbags and belts, as well as at time wonderful bead work, are on sale in the Ngozee shop (Tel. 022 260 19 61 or 0754 37 81 08) in a corner of Oysterbay Shopping mall. They greatly combine leather with horn, and their furniture, including chairs and table made of leather, is simply beautiful, even though special.

In Slipway, in a tiny shop just opposite the entrance to the Shoprite supermarket you can design your own necklaces from beads, coconut, cautchuk and other materials originating from all over Africa. There are numerous shops selling conventional art work from East Africa in Slipway too, as well as two shops selling wooden furniture made in Tanzania.

Kangas, Vitenges and Batiks, bright cotton fabrics with a distinctive African stamp mostly made in Tanzania (but some also in India, watch out, the quality is less good), can be found at Uhuru and Kitumbini Streets downtown. Each day, scores of vendors sit at stalls or behind tables and the selection of cloth is a feast for the eyes and much like a visit to an art gallery. Kangas have all a short Kiswahili proverbs printed on, and some of them are great – so make sure you know what you buy and wear wrapped around your body! The price of a Kanga, which consists in a piece of cloth about 5m long, meant to cut into the wrap around skirt, and the scarf, costs about 4000 to 5000TzSh.

Great Indian Silk cloth to make Saris is available in the Madina Silk Store on the corner of Zanaki and Jamhuri Street in the Asian district downtown.

And excellent and very talented local tailor is Mama Tina (Tel. 0784 66 75 38). Her tiny little atelier packed with cloth, and yet to be finished dresses for a great variety of clients, and half a dozen of fundis (collaborators) on old English sowing machines equipped with an engine later on, is located on the dirt road turning left form Ali Hassani Mwinyi main road just before the Fast Food Restaurant “Quick Bite“ (when approaching from the city centre), about 200m from the main road, on your right. Tina has trained and worked in England, and designing and developing a complete new wardrobe for a wedding or a ball is a great pleasure, yet very affordable (25 to 30US$ for a complete set).

“Mama Africa – African Couture with a Twist” (Tel. 0784 30 38 80 or 022 266 85 55; e-mail:;, designed by Mustafa Hassanali is on display and sale in a shop on Kilimani Road in Kinondoni just behind the French Embassy (watch out for the sign post to Patricia Metzger’s Beauty Salon leading of Ali Hassani Mwinyi road to the left, when coming from the city centre).

On the annual “Makutano” Exhibition on the Grounds of the Police Officers’ Mess right on the sea on Toure Drive in early June, some of the best and lesser known art and handicraft from all over Tanzania is for sale – unfortunately only just one day per year. The organizers are always at the search of new talented artists and products for sale.

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