Painted South African Taper Candles

These fairly traded, unique and individually hand-painted taper candles are made in South Africa by a primarily women's group (a few men work too).  The vivid colors reflect the variety of the South African landscape and its diverse cultures.  Many of the designs incorporate animal prints and geometric shapes that are frequently used in tribal patterns. 

Made with pride by a self-funded women's organization in South Africa, our hand dipped and wax-painted African taper candles are individual works of art!

The purchase of these fairly-traded candles helps to support and empower the indigenous people of Africa by creating jobs, continuing training of a handicraft, and providing a steady income to the artists - many of whom solely support their families with the production of these candles.

Women who participate in this ground-breaking program work at their own pace, either from their homes, or in a provided, safe working environment (where children are not only welcome, but encouraged!). The women start with German-grade paraffin wax taper candles (the best quality available), then meticulously draw traditional African tribal-inspired designs using a variety of colored waxes.

The waxes are heated in Metal cans then transferred to small working pots that the artisan can use to paint the designs on. 

Currently we have two groups of women: The original group has 22 women  and three men who primarily live in townships outside Johannesburg and travel into town for a four-day work week, where they stay on the grounds and receive room and board plus meals and a salary. They are provided transportation to and from their homes for a three day weekend. They receive holidays (with pay) and a fair working wage as well as a percentage of the overall profits, after expenses (rent, utilities, insurance and raw products). Our second group is made up of twelve women who primarily are self paced and work from their homes, bringing product into our workshop usually twice a month.

Most of the proceeds from the RETAIL sale of these candles, less shipping costs go back to the collective. With the drop in the value of the U.S. dollar vs. the South African Rand, we are currently at a break-even point. We continue to give the women their wages, and they have had two increases in price paid per finished pair since 2009.

While these candles will add an exotic look to any room, they are also functional, and burn well with minimal dripping and no smoking.


please note:  the biographies as written are translated verbatim.  We realize there are some errors in grammar, however we have opted to leave them as said by the artisan rather than correct any grammatical errors and "put words in their mouths"

Maria Moromudi

My name is Maria Moromudi and I am 43 years old.  I am the head of the cooperative where we make colorful candles.  Basically my name was derived from the bible and means ďMother of JesusĒ I have two children aged 26 and 25. I come from Pietersburg and have been with this collective for 7 years. I enjoy designing candles more than housework, which I used to do before. Iíve learned a lot and gained a lot of experience that makes it easy to fix mistakes if any. Itís sometimes adventurous and interesting to know your work inside out. I work with different characters by so saying, different attitudes that makes working easy and joyous when you know each other.

By buying Fairly Traded candles you are ensuring that, Ashley, Beauty, Esilly, Gift, Maria, Nonhlanhla, Prudence, Thokozile and Vusani and others are able to earn a fair living wage in the local context. Like our products, the atmosphere in this workshop is lively. There is singing, music, laughter, chatter and the joy is evident on the faces of our team. Together with our African artisan team we design and create color, stripes, spirals, squiggles and whorls to bring you the warm art of Africa. These are my people.

Esilly Mgwenya

My name is Esilly Mgwenya aged 28. I am a lady. I come from Zimbabwe. I have two children a boy and a girl. I have 5 years in South Africa but 4 years working in candles. Long ago I used to be a boy because I was herding my fatherís cattle. I used to fight with other boys in the bush. At work I am the boss at fighting. Iím a friend of Maria. If you see Maria it is as if you see a lion.  But we always happy. (Maria is the head of the cooperative...)

Beauty Ndlovu

I am Beauty Ndlovu, aged 26 years. Sphiliswe is my african name and means opportunity to living. I came from Zimbabwe. I am married with two boys aged seven and four, who I love very much. My mother still lives in Zimbabwe, she is 70 years old. My father passed away in 2006. I love listening to all the stories that the other cooperative women (and boys, too!) tell us, they are funny and make us happy and laugh a lot. It makes coming to work good because we are happy. Iíve been working for this cooperative for almost five years, designing and painting candles. My fellow artisans thinks I am very talented and really likes my designs. Iím always late but we always get along!

Gift Ndiweni

My name is Gift Ndiweni. Iím 22 years old and I am from Zimbabwe.  I come to South Africa in 2004, after I finished grade 12. I used to help my mother at home with the cooking and cleaning.  Before I used to paint houses until I started at this cooperative. where I am for the last two years. I was the first man to work here, but now there are three of us!  When I was a small boy I used to play with girls. In our cooperative we are always happy, thatís why I stay here.  I get along with the girls and they help me get dates!



SOME of the colors we offer (always changing inventory!)  Not all colors are available all the time

Citrus Peacock Pomegranate Blueberry Sherbets
African Sunsets Poseidon Spice Palette Marrakech Glowing Embers
Brights Safari Christmas Blue & White Zanzibar
Espresso Precious Jewelry Watermelon Neutrals Kaleidoscope
Earth Zesty Harvest Flamboyant Starter Mix


Visit our retail website, featuring these hand painted South African Taper Candles

For quantity discounts, including wedding and corporate purchases (min 24 pairs)  Sorry we are no longer able to wholesale these candles, as the US dollar vs the South African Rand (currency exchange) is at such a disadvantageous exchange rate that we can no longer sell them for resale. 

PLEASE CALL SCOTT AT (916) 443-2057 or write us at zanzibartrading@yahoo.com







This site was last updated 03/22/11