Pan African Market, Cape Town, South Africa. © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved. Cape Town Take-Homes: Traditional African Crafts.

Cape Town Take-Homes: Traditional African Crafts

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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.

Pan African Market, Cape Town, South Africa. © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved. Cape Town Take-Homes: Traditional African Crafts.

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!

Pan African Market, Cape Town, South Africa. © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved. Cape Town Take-Homes: Traditional African Crafts.

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.

Pan African Market, Cape Town, South Africa. © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved. Cape Town Take-Homes: Traditional African Crafts.

Traditional African Crafts

Pan African Market

76 Long Street, Cape Town City Centre

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A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

2 thoughts on “Cape Town Take-Homes: Traditional African Crafts”

  1. Make sure you check out stores such as Monkeybiz and Streetwires whose products are crafted by locals from the townships with all proceeds going back into projects to help overcome poverty and HIV/AIDS.

    By the way, if you want to make a connection with anyone form the Centre for African Studies (http://www.africanstudies.uct.ac.za) at the University of Cape Town, I’m sure they’d love to meet you & have you chat to students. They run a Masters course in Public Culture that focuses on the images of Africa (this is what I got my Masters in) & with yours & Terrances backgrounds in film, photography & travel writing, you’d make perfect guest speakers (shame though I think the uni year has already ended). Anyway, Prof Harry Garuba is the head of the department & Nick Shepherd (my old mentor) id the head of the program…. Contact them anyway as I am sure they’ll be fascinated by your project.

    Good luck!!

  2. Hi Kim – thanks for the tips! We did visit both Monkeybiz and Streetwires – two rather different organizations – and I also did a beading class. Those stories coming up in a few days. Thanks for the contacts but we actually left Cape Town a couple of weeks ago – our stories are two weeks behind us, such is the nature of the trip. Lots more to come on Cape Town!

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