Art and Craft on a Uganda Safari : Some of the most fascinating things in Uganda that most people on Uganda safaris love to sight before they depart back to their homelands are art and crafts, art and craft are part of Ugandan culture. Crafts have been developed through the traditions of the people. Art and craft are a result of the feelings of the people responding to a variety of historical events and influences and the environment in a most spontaneous manner.

Art is the creation of works of beauty through the application of skill resulting from knowledge and regular practice. Craft on the other hand is taken as an occupation, especially one in which skills or techniques in the use of the hands are needed.

Art is a widespread language that dates back thousands of years ago where mankind told stories through pictures drawn on cave walls. Through the ages, artists have conveyed history through sketches, paintings, construction and sculptures.

Art and Craft on a Uganda Safari
Banana Boat

Uganda aims at both local and international market for its handcrafts. Uganda’s handcraft trade is largely informal market with an inconsistent market access entry and penetration approaches and inadequate market distribution networks.

Where to get some of the finest art in Uganda

There is a lot of genuine art found in stores in Kampala and some globally acclaimed artists’ work is shown in some of the art galleries in Uganda’s capital. Some of the general arts and crafts stores in Kampala are listed below.

Exposure Africa: This is possibly 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.

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 Art.

Crafts Village: The arts and crafts village is found behind the National Theater in Kampala. It is basically 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 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 really 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 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 art works 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 at friendly prices. All you have to do to find them is keep your eyes open as you explore the city, you will be agreeably surprised.

Raw Materials used in Uganda art and craft

For the Art and crafts industry, Wild nature provides the raw materials. Wild beans, wild gourds, Snail Shells, Tree barks, clay and tree stumps, feathers and even some skins and hides, are still sourced from their natural habitats.

The crafts men also harvest the bark of particular tree species like the Fig tree (omutuba) to make specific cloth by beating the bark continuously until it makes a flat surface like a cloth. The Ganda have a very strong cultural connection to the bark cloth. It is used in places of traditional worship and funeral rites as a connection to the ancestors. One can also make clothing, bags, hats and whatever else they wish.

To Ugandans, Art is a lifestyle. Since the old times, animals like elephants were hunted for their tusks. While zebras, cheetahs and leopards, were hunted for their beautiful skin prints. Reptiles like pythons, monitor lizards, crocodiles and snake provided skins, which were used as inputs for items like leather bags, wine skins, sandals, accessories, headdress, crowns, and shields and in most cases are used for making musical instruments like drums. Skins are also used in the traditional textile industry for making clothes; the fur from the skin is mostly used for making pillows, fur coats and for decorating other products. Skins from wild animals are used for making traditional clothing, for example in Buganda the Kabaka puts on a leopard skin to symbolize traditional power. Other animal products like mammalian tooth, claws and bones are used for making necklaces, wristbands anklets and other beauteous products. Animal horn are used to make trumpets, flutes while the feathers from the birds are used for designing other products like hats, headdress and crowns as well as bags and other products.

Art and Craft on a Uganda Safari
Art and Craft on a Uganda Safari

Other things used in the art and craft industry are beads, beans, cowrie shells and snails that are used for decorating other products as well as making necklaces, waistbands, and so on.

all these can be seen on your Uganda art and craft safari you can as well get the chance to involve in the practice yourself and get to have the best thrilling moment of your life in Uganda , also get the chance to buy some and keep at home or even better surprise your loved ones with a cultural gift.

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