Shopping in Botswana
If you are looking for souvenirs from Botswana you should read this.
Handicrafts are one of the main souvenirs to buy in Botswana or the Republic of Botswana. This country, situated in the south of the African continent, is famous for the Kalahari desert which takes up 70% of its surface area. Most of its typical products come from handicrafts made by women.
When you travel to this country, one of the best known products to buy in Botswana is wickerwork. The women of Etsha and Gumare, two villages in the north of the country, are skilled artisans. You will also find ceramics, paintings, wood carvings, and more handicraft products from the area.
Let’s look at which are the most prominent souvenirs of Botswana, and which ones the travellers who visit the country from all around the world take home.
As we already mentioned, wickerwork forms part of the most typical and emblematic things to buy in Botswana. If you visit the north of the country, you must go to Etsha or Gumare, where the women make all kinds of items with palm leaves.
From baskets, plates and other kitchen utensils, to items and accessories for personal use. The art of wickerwork has improved and increased its production over the years.
Another of the typical products of Botswana is pottery, but to get to know the artisans first hand, and buy one of the most authentic pieces, you need to visit Thamaga.
This village in the south east of the country is home to a very important artisan community who do the most traditional pottery. The handmade pots which are simply painted are true works of art.
In the district of Kgatleng, also in the south east of the country, they make incredible terracotta handicrafts, which have been declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Women are at the forefront again, making traditional terracotta figures and utensils. These handicraft items are undoubtedly one of the things to buy in Botswana with the most cultural and aesthetic value.
If you want to take home one of the souvenirs of Botswana with more artisanal value, visit The Lentswe Oodi Weavers, a cooperative of Swedish origin in the village of Oodi. This village, situated approximately 20 km to the north of Gaborone, in Francistown Road is the home to the best weavers in the country.
The women, who now own the cooperative, produce necklaces, tapestries, napkins, cushion covers, jackets and coats, all designed by the weavers themselves. The wool is woven and dyed by hand and most of the designs depict rural scenes, animals or geometric patterns.
Wood carving has been used traditionally in the production of traditional objects such as tools, bowls, cups and spoons. All of them made from the grained wood of the mopane tree.
As well as practical utensils for everyday use, the artisans carve figures of animals from the wood. At present, many artisans are using mopane wood to also carve jewellery.
This is a relatively new handicraft tradition in Botswana, which is currently gaining popularity. It was recently introduced and taught to ivory carvers who, with the worldwide ban on the sale of ivory products, were in danger of losing their livelihoods.
Tourism has meant that these artisans can continue working, turning their works into the perfect souvenirs to buy in Botswana during your trip. The artisans make elegant, finely crafted jewellery and small figurines which look and feel like real ivory, but without being so.
Tourism and tourists’ fascination with the Bushmen has revived the traditional handicrafts of this ethnic group. Currently, the Bushmen produce and sell hunting items, fire-making sticks, beaded jewellery and belts, leather items and musical instruments.
Authentic ostrich eggshell continues to be used to make objects to sell to tourists. The contrast of the creamy white beads on the brown and black leather string makes these items particularly attractive. In fact, they are one of the typical products to buy in Botswana with the most success.
There are many artists who sell their works in the local shops and in exhibitions in the shopping centres in Gaborone or Francistown. Most of the artists, of course, prefer to hold exhibitions in the National Museum or in their own houses. The National Museum of Gaborone organises a yearly art competition for all of the schools in the country, whose results are usually quite interesting.
If you have chance to visit the National Museum, and you love art, you will be able to connect with the author of the work. If your budget allows it, you can choose any other handicrafts item that we have mentioned earlier.