ARUSHA, Tanzania - Art and crafts enthusiasts all over Africa were in Arusha at a recent modern and contemporary Arusha Community Fair. It was indeed a weekend loaded with creative art and craft from some of the finest artists in the region.
Corporates of all professions swarmed the TGT grounds opposite Arusha airport for the two days conference from 16th to 17th November. The fair was organized by the Heron recreation and affirmed the appetite for lots of African artwork by both locals and foreigners.
Over the years, the Herons have been cultivating prospective patrons and exhibitors of Africa’s vibrant art and craft work.The atmosphere at the Fair was adrenaline-drenched and turned out to be a bright and bountiful future for the fine artists.
For those who had closely observed the exponential growth of African’s art and craft works scene in the past few years, last week’s audience exceeded expectations. The organizers brought together more than 60 stands flooded with exceptional works. Some of the art works are original concepts by the artists while some was showcased by collectors who wanted to sell prominent African art pieces.
For several reasons, their combined artistic efforts have worked well in this Fair, not just because their styles complement one another, but also because of the collective impact of their art which serves to enhance each art and craft work.
In all this, the vast majority of visitors walked from one stand to another seeing these diverse styles of contemporary designs. Collections of distinctive handmade and original arts and crafts with rare, exceptional and unique designs, were exhibited and sold. Altogether they have assembled a wide range of works with huge collections of beautiful adorned earrings, bracelets, necklaces, Maasai beadwork’s, shoes, Zimbabwean sculptures, cheese, fresh baked breads, sparkling wines and more.
It was an event where visitors opened their wallets to buy several products including handmade face and body cosmetics, kikoi, wide variety of oil and acrylic paintings. Tingatingas, jewelry from material sourced locally, bags with provocative, bold and beautiful designs including the famous Kenyan ‘kiondo as well as top-of-the-range clothing’s with a contemporary feel. Besides, an eye for beauty and taste for the fine things in life, another main pull factor were the extensive menus at the food court giving visitors that relaxing ‘eating out’ feel. There was much to discover from ice creams, hot and cold snacks, juices, salads, hamburgers, pizzas, sausages to culinary delights. The Arusha’s Khans BBQ, famed for its unique marinated chicken menu, was busy throughout the lunch hour.
Another striking aspect in this Fair was the sheer diversity of the children’s activities and live entertainment including Father Christmas giving the whole family, an early christmas treat.
“This is a Fair about redefining the art and craft works of Africa taking in the old into the new and connecting people with the wonderful heritage that exists in the continent,” said Andrew Malalika. He was participating as a volunteer in the ‘I worry campaign’ under the umbrella of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO). Andrew said they are bringing awareness, education and enforcement for people to understand the protection of wildlife, in particular the elephant which is endangered. Elephants are killed massively in Africa, and Andrew who is also the owner of Jackpot Safaris, said one elephant is killed after every 15 minutes for its ivory. The ivory has a lucrative market in the Far East.
He said: “The world without elephants is like a song without a melody.”
The Fair, was the clearest sign not only that the place is opening up business opportunities to a wider market but also was illustrative of the fact that the African arts and craft works world is thriving.