Buying African Souvenirs and Gifts in Kampala – Uganda
Best Places to find African Arts, Crafts and Souvenirs in Kampala
Craft Markets and Stores in Kampala – Uganda
Uganda – Kampala is filled with places where you can buy African Arts, Crafts and Souvenirs – wherever you go you will find a place where carvings can be bought, baskets, weavings, fabrics, t-shirts and much more. There are however markets and stores that focus on a wide variety of Art, Crafts and Souvenirs to remind you of your visit to the Pearl of Africa – Uganda. In the midst of all the Ugandan Art, Crafts, Souvenirs there is often a mix of items made in neighboring countries such as Carvings from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a lot of things made in Kenya such as soap stone – bracelets and other African type Jewelry. Someone such a myself can readily tell the items from Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo – most visitors however will not – at the end of the day you are taking home a piece of Africa as a souvenir or gift for someone as a reminder of your visit to remarkable Uganda.
Your purchases of African Arts, Crafts and Souvenirs will impact the lives of those who created it and their families and the person you are purchasing it from. Your purchase of art, crafts, souvenirs and gifts impact the lives of ordinary Ugandans – most of the items you will find on display and for sale are created by hand, and if you bought similar items such as beads or earrings, bangles in the West – handmade – they would cost you a lot more. There are handmade drums, of various sizes, weapons such as spears (some can be taken apart to put into a suitcase), carved items, items using bark cloth, banana leaves shaped into Christmas crèches to Greetings Cards – items made of gourds, African musical instruments, paintings, batiks…one could go on – explore for yourself and enjoy.
In regards to art – you can find a lot of genuine art in the craft stores listed below – better known artists – some with International praise for their works can be found in some of the Art Galleries in Kampala – the items found there cost more reflecting the quality of work that you would purchase.
Below are some of the most popular places for African Souvenirs, Art and Crafts in Kampala:
Uganda Arts & Crafts Village:
This is assortment of various craft stalls and shops found behind the National Theatre in Kampala – you can bargain here a bit – but they most often will not bargain as much as at the Friday Craft Market. The prices are usually reasonable – you can find various handicrafts from wood carvings to leather items, Ugandan shirts and dresses, even Ugandan chairs and small tables that are nicely carved with a village or wildlife scene – at times you have to be discerning since there is a mixture of kitsch and very nice handicraft – you will certainly recognize the difference. This is one of the oldest and most established places in Kampala where you can buy various handicrafts. Compare the prices between shops and you just might come out ahead.
- Exposure Africa: This craft market is found next to Daisy’s Arcade (on Buganda Road) and is the biggest craft market in Kampala with over 30 stalls – once again compare prices on the same or similar items – you will be surprised by the differences – so it is best to be a discerning and bargaining shopper. Once again a lot of the things are display here are from Kenya and not from Uganda – of course the sellers with smiling faces would deny that (anything made of soap stone comes from the town of Tabaka in Kenya for example). It is a lovely place to find so many items and variety of products in one place. You once again with your purchases make a difference in life of artisans and seller – something that should be most satisfying to most tourists.
- Friday Craft Market: This craft market takes place as the name every Friday in Nsambiya along Ggaba Road – Often here you are dealing directly with the artisan and there is little overhead to cover resulting in bargains. Speaking of Bargains – you can certainly bargain more here with better results since you are often not dealing with resellers but with the person that created what you are wanting to buy. You can easily spend a few enjoyable hours here. If you are in Kampala do not miss the Friday Craft Market – not only can you buy some great handicrafts here but is also a cultural experience especially when you enter the ancient dance of bargaining….enjoy.
- Uganda Crafts-2000 LTD:This is a non-profit fair trade store that sells hundreds of handmade items that are made from leather, wood, cane, banana leaves – the list is endless – from special Christmas décor to leather bags. They offer Ugandan, Kenyan and Congolese art and crafts items. The location DLCO-EA House on plot 32-36 Bombo Road, Kampala. The good news here is this – not only will find delightful item to purchase and take home but your purchases create and sustain jobs for the marginalized, disadvantaged, People with disabilities, widows, orphans those living with HIV – your purchases will also improve the standard of living of the artisans who created the various items found for sale here.
- Banana Boat: Here you will find many better arts and crafts pieces, not only from Uganda but other African Countries which includes greeting cards, batiks, jewelry, clothing, carvings, metal art and much more. There are several locations in mostly better shopping malls such as the Garden City Shopping Mall, the Lugogo Mall and at Plot 23, Cooper Road, Kisementi. You pay a bit more but you have a vast collection of items to purchase in a store setting – sorry no bargaining here – but certainly a most enjoyable setting in each case.
- Nommo Gallery : Here you will find a wide variety of aesthetic art of the collectible kind. This gallery has a fine selection for the discerning buyer of African art – located near the Sheraton Hotel on Plot 4 Victoria Avenue, Nakasero. This is also Uganda’s National Art Gallery where you will find the artwork from local artists as well as others from all over East Africa. The Shop is a part of it and you will find wonderful artworks and crafts – they do close at 5pm during the week and 3 pm on weekends. A visit here will be most rewarding.
Kampala has many places where you can buy arts and crafts – keep your eyes open as you venture around in this amazing city – there other items that make great gifts – from local coffees that you can buy in attractive mini-coffee sacks at Coffee shops such as 1000 Cups of Coffee, Ban Café and Café Pap – naming a few. Owino Market is also a place for fabrics, spices and much more – local super markets have some reasonably priced Ugandan coffee such as “Good African Coffee” and Star brand “Bugisu Arabica Beans” that taste like lovely Sumatran coffee, even a kilo of sugar from Kakira with their lion on the package make a nice gift – the sugar is like a turbinado sugar. Tea – one of the main drinks here is lovely in flavor and at a very low price – both in bags or fine bulk. The list is endless in the things that you can buy to keep the memories of your visit to the Pearl of Africa alive….from Kampala – my favorite city in Africa…jon
“The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the climate is different and most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa….what message I bring back….concentrate upon Uganda – ‘The Pearl of Africa’.” Winston Churchill (My African Journey – 1908)