These stunning artworks are exported the world over – so if you visit eSwatini, pick up your own to take home with you. Possibly the best thing about these bright and striking candles is that when they’re lit, the flame will make a small hole in the body but doesn’t melt the entire candle – meaning you can keep it and put a tealight inside, in order to enjoy the candle without it dying.
Swazi candles are made from balls of non-scented paraffin wax imported from South Africa, which are softened in the oven before the ball is coated with another piece of paraffin wax printed with bright colours and patterns. The local artists shape the candles by hand into different African animals. Once shaped, they are put in cold water for 24 hours to cool and harden so they don’t break or get squashed when you carry them home in your luggage. These talented craftsmen can make a small candle in less then five minutes and a large candle in less than seven, and make between 30 and 50 candles every day.
Another example of beautiful Swati craftsmanship are the products from Ngwenya Glass Factory. The items, which are handmade from 100% recycled glass, include wine glasses, champagne flutes, cocktail glasses, tumblers, vases, jugs, paperweights, candle holders and tableware as well as ornamental African animals. The majority of the glass used in these products is made from soft drink bottles collected from across the country. If you haven’t visited the showroom during your trip to eSwatini, you can order these products from the Ngwenya Glass website – and you can even request a custom order.
Spice up your meals when you get back home from your trip with hot Black Mamba Chili sauce. The company now supports 60 families who receive a sustainable income by growing chilis or making sauce for Black Mamba. As well as hot sauce, Black Mamba also sells pestos, chutneys, pickles and pastes – if you don’t pick them up from the Swazi Candles complex or one of the malls in eSwatini, you can also order jars from Amazon (in the US) or Traidcraft (in the UK) as well as stores in Germany, Australia, South Africa and the Czech Republic.
Gone Rural began in the 70s as a small craft shop selling handmade clothes and accessories and has grown to an enterprises which employs 770 artists in 53 communities across eSwatini who make handwoven products. The Lutindzi grasses are first harvested by local communities in the mountains before being sold to Gone Rural and dyed in an eco-friendly manner. The raw material is then weighed and given to women weavers who work from home. These can now be bought at retailers across the globe including Gone Rural UK in England and The Smithsonian Institution in America.
Baobab Batik is a social enterprise which was set up by Els Hooft in 1991 as a way of creating sustainable work opportunities for women in the country. It now employs 35 full-time artists; supporting and empowering them to develop their batik-making skills. Each of the products are handmade by the team: from the batik makers who trace the patterns onto plain white fabric and apply melted wax inside the outline. The artworks are then dyed and treated before the wax is removed and the beautiful designs are hung out to dry in the sun. Once the dying process is complete, a team of seamstresses then make the fabrics into items such as cushion covers, scarves, kids’ toys and clothing which you can buy from their store at Swazi Candles.
Quazi Design takes discarded magazines and uses them to create a range of ethically produced items such as jewellery and accessories. The company provides much needed employment to local women, all of whom are paid a living wage and encouraged to share their skills with each other. The majority of the artisans working for Quazi Design used to be unemployed and have approximately seven dependents, so full-time employment on permanent contracts has transformed their quality of life . These stunning products are now stocked in boutique stores around the world, such as Birdsong, The Big Issue and Paper Plane in the UK and Bridge for Africa, Global Goods and Voss Foundation in the US.