Artisans In Africa CEO and co-founder Caley van der Kolk

Artisans In Africa CEO and co-founder Caley van der Kolk

The AIA story begins in Transkei; an area of 43 798 km squared on the East Coast of South Africa.

Best known for it's wild seas (The Wild Coast), counter culture types, good surf and beautiful people, the Transkei also boasts some of Africa's top artisans. 

The Xhosa bead artists depicted in this video have practiced their craft for 60 years, and it was their parents who handed the intricate art down to them: a beautiful gift. It was the parent's parents who initially received the beads in the early 1800's, from settlers roaming the area. 

 

These beads have become a key part of the visual messaging system of the Xhosa people.

 
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Of a more romantic notion is the tale that Indian beads from ancient Arab trading dhows washed up upon the Wild Coast and were engulfed into Xhosa culture with gusto.

These beads have become a key part of the visual messaging system of the Xhosa people.  

This lineage of skills, stories, inheritance, culture and authentic Africa will soon be lost if we do not make an avid effort to protect it. We do not have to always protect it in linear ways: like putting replicas in museums, documenting it in static / moving imagery.

Sometimes things are best preserved through taking a little of the past and merging it with things popular in the present. Because then it becomes accessible to many more people. This is AIA's calling.

Every product and story you see on this site is inspired by authentic African culture or is produced in full / part using traditional African practices.

AIA is an authentic African Marketplace and AIA gives a voice to those who most deserve it: our continent's creative souls. 

To understand the AIA mission, watch our video below: