04 July 2018
After months of experimenting with Horn samples from Kenya, we had become so inspired and intrigued by these beautiful products and the story behind them; how they were made and who by. After speaking with a wide network of people, and diving deeper into the materials and level of traditional craftsmanship that takes place, we decided the only way to discover what East Africa had to offer, and whether this project was going to be viable, was to just book flights and go!
We already knew about the rare ankole cow horn in Uganda, but we were also curious about the other materials that we might find along the way. We decided to begin in Uganda and finish in Kenya, where we hoped to discover and learn more about the rich artistry and history of handmade crafts in East Africa.
We were based in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and the colours around us were extraordinary, from the dusty dirt roads made of bright orange clay, green trees, to bright blue skies, multi-coloured buildings, and the vibrant clothing of people walking the streets.
It didn't take us long to realise there was so much inspiration to be found, it was overwhelming but incredible!
We visited the Kampala City Market, and discovered amazing arts and crafts, vibrant clothing and beautiful jewellery. It really opened our eyes to the level of skill and talent over there. We were blown away by the intricacies and the detail on woven baskets and jewellery, to finely crafted wood pieces, and exceptionally painted mud-cloths. To see all this up close and in person only deepened our desire to bring finely-crafted pieces to the homeware market.
We had four days in Uganda and in amongst meetings, we managed to meet some amazing people and witness some exceptional craftsmanship. We even managed to visit a few different restaurants in Kampala town. One worth mentioning was ‘The Verandah’ restaurant, which one evening saw us indulge in the most incredible indian cuisine - potentially the best indian we have ever had!
Our wonderful driver kindly offered to drive us from Kampala all the way to Busia, the town bordering Kenya, allowing us to get a further glimpse of the vast Ugandan landscape. To break up the drive, we stopped off in Jinja, a small town that is the source of the Nile River. We squeezed in a quick boat tour just before the sun went down, and we were also taken to an orphanage to meet some beautiful children, which was an extremely moving experience. Keep an eye out for our blog post on our day spent in Jinja to hear more!
Our time in Uganda was an overwhelming and unforgettable experience. Being our first trip to East Africa, each moment was a special part of the journey, and we have come away feeling truly humbled. We were amazed by the work of the people and the communities. Even with language barriers, different cultures, and coming from separate continents, we felt a strong connection with everyone we met, as if we were bound by a shared passion and purpose.