Sprawled across several floors in a colossal Victorian building on Cape Town’s cool Long Street, the Pan African Market is a one-stop-shop for African souvenirs. You can spend hours browsing the warren of dozens of small shops selling traditional and contemporary tribal art, handicrafts, textiles, musical instruments, dolls, and jewellery from all over Africa, making it a great place to buy your take-homes of traditional African crafts.
Be warned: while there is some stunning stuff here, including striking handmade woodcarvings and positively spooky passport masks, there is also a lot of manufactured junk at some shops, so take time to look around and talk to the shop owners to make sure their products are what they say they are.
Our favourite shop is Hamid’s at #111 on the first floor. Originally from Cameroon, Hamid has lived in Cape Town for twelve years, but travels frequently around Africa on buying trips, which means you’ll find anything here from beautiful wedding masks from the Gabon and carved wooden sets of a mother and child figure from the Congo, to fertility dolls from his home of Cameroon and bronze statuettes of warriors and musicians from Nigeria and Benin.
Hamid takes his job seriously. Drop in during a quiet moment and you’ll likely see him thumbing through hefty tomes on African arts, crafts and antiques. We asked Hamid why visitors to Cape Town should shop at the Market. “It’s the only place in Africa that you’ll find all arts and crafts from all over Africa.” That’s good enough for us!
The best South African souvenir according to Hamid? The passport masks, pictured above.
When you need to rest your weary legs and count your money, there’s a cafe on the first floor with a balcony with great views of Long Street.
Traditional African Crafts
Pan African Market
76 Long Street, Cape Town City Centre