What's The Story? - Bolga Baskets
These beautiful hand-woven baskets are made by artisans in rural Bolgatanga.
For many generations, weaving has been a traditional skill of the people of Upper East Ghana.
"Bolga Baskets" or "Market Baskets" are all natural baskets made from tall, tough elephant grass. Elephant grass (Cenchrus purpureus), grows wild and often over 10' tall.
The grass is dried, dyed, woven and often finished with goat hide handles for comfort and durability. A medium basket usually takes about two days to create.
The specialized weaving process makes these baskets strong and flexible; they can be reshaped or washed by getting them wet with water and forming them with your hands.
The Company: Swahili African Modern
Swahili African Modern works with networks of artisans in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Sudan, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Senegal .
Leslie Mittelberg founded her company Swahili in 1995 in Eugene, Oregon. A former resident of Nairobi, Kenya, Leslie named the company "Swahili" after the people of East Africa whose artistry inspired her entrepreneurship.
Swahili partners with African artisans extending each artisan's craft from the local market to the global marketplace, all the while providing artisans with options to work from the comfort of their own homes and communities. Traditional skills that have been passed down through generations continue to bring meaning, stability, & a sense of pride to artisans & entire communities.
Secure in the knowledge that the fair payment they receive will not be reduced by traveling expenses, childcare costs or haggled prices, artisans in the Swahili network promote their family's future by using earnings to put food on the table and pay educational expenses for their children.
Swahili works with producers across Africa who value their natural environment and employ sustainable methods of production including utilizing recycled, reclaimed and highly renewable materials. The company is a member of the Fair Trade Federation.
Historically Bolgatanga was situated at the southern terminus of the ancient Trans-Saharan trade route. Much of Bolga is a dispersed settlement of mud-walled compounds each surrounded by fields and spread over an area of about 160 square miles. The cultivation of staple crops and stock raising are the chief occupations.
Destination: Bolgatanga, Ghana
Bolgatanga, colloquially known as Bolga, is a town and the capital of the Bolgatanga Municipal District and Upper East Region of Ghana, adjacent to the border with Burkina Faso. Bolgatanga's name derives from the Frafra words bolga "rock" and tẽŋa "city." Bolga lies in the Red Volta River Valley (which serves as a major migration route for elephants).
The region has an erratic rainfall pattern and generally harsh weather conditions. A dry, dust-laden wind, called Harmattan, often blows from the desert. From February to April, the temperature easily exceeds 104°F, November to January temperatures are around 65 °F.