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Handcrafted, Fairly Traded Beaded Animals from Africa

Zanzibar offers a wide, ever changing selection of creative beaded wire animals from Africa, including Kenya and South Africa. 



Our hand beaded animals from Kenya, Africa:

These whimsical African beaded animals spring from the mind of G.M. Njora, a young man from Nairobi, Kenya. Using hand blown glass beads crafted in the Czech Republic (in Europe, formerly part of Czechoslavakia) and wire from defunct car electric motors, he hand creates these amazing animals. When we first met him, he was selling spiders at the Maasai market. When asked if he could do other animals, he readily agreed and has added to his menagerie of native African animals.  The few pictured above are just a tiny sampling of his work.  He makes elephants, giraffes, pelicans, geckos, rhinos, antelope, frogs, snakes, spiders and many others!  Visit our gallery for the current selection (beads vary in color - no two are alike!).



from Monkeybiz cooperative in South Africa

Monkeybiz is a non-profit, income-generating art and health project for the benefit of the artisans. They currently support over 450 women and their families – many of whom are HIV positive. By creating beautiful, one-of-a-kind beaded art pieces, the women have found a sustainable way to support themselves.

Monkeybiz provides a range of services to our community. By doing this we ensure that our community has access to the services they need to maintain their health and wellbeing. We are non-profit organization and all of the sales from our bead art go directly and indirectly (through service and running of organization) to our community.

By buying a Monkeybiz product, you are directly supporting our bead artists and their families, as well as the health and wellness services that are provided to our community.
One of the most exciting aspects of Monkeybiz products is that they are all one-off pieces. No two products are identical.
Your purchase not only supports the artisan, it supports many programs that Monkey Biz runs, including: An HIV/AIDS wellness clinic, Burial society, soup kitchen, skill development workshops, Child care and other programs.



Our "Computer Buddies" Copper Wire Animals from South Africa:

Crafted by a cooperative in Durban, the wire is actually recycled from old electric motors from cars! Life is a struggle for many of these men and women, as HIV/AIDS has devastated most South African Zulu families. A significant portion goes directly to the artisans.




Our beaded animals from South Africa:

Under the South African apartheid system, the Zulu people were forced onto marginal lands and into enclosed urban townships.  Today the Zulus are still recovering from this economic and political oppression.   They crafts dozens of designs - including elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, dinosaurs and many other animals!  Visit our gallery for our current offerings. 

In 1995, 22 Zulu men and women came together to form a cooperative to market their crafts within Africa and for export.  By crafting unique products using beads and wire, they are able to support their families living the the townships.  In an area deeply impacted by HIV/AIDS (as many as 2/3 of Zulus in some areas are HIV positive), a steady income is critical. 

 The skillful wirework products that we offer from South Africa are made by a small group of 22 Zulu men and women located outside the city of Durban in South Africa. While wirework originated in Zimbabwe, this group has included a traditional Zulu art form: beads.

Africa's beadwork is unique.T he Zulu used beading as a code by which particular colors are selected and combined in various ways to shape messages that at the time are woven into decorative geometrical designs. The geometric shapes themselves have particular significance and the craft itself forms an intricate communicational system devoted entirely to the expression of ideas, feelings and facts related to behavior and relations between the sexes. Similarly among the Xhosa of the Transkei, special beadwork marks off peer grounds of different age-sets while distinctive regalia is reserved for the bride and groom at weddings and for the guests closely associated with them.


The Bead and Wire Group in Durban sprang from the desire of Carey and Brendan Moran to “promote and nurture the African spirit that informed their lives”. Both were born of 3rd and 4th generation English speaking South African Durban families and were passionate about living their lives in a meaningful and conscious way given the influences of growing up in apartheid South Africa. Carey studied the Social Sciences at the University of Cape Town in the politically turbulent late '80s and then completed a postgraduate degree in Development Economics at the University of Natal. After 2 years of working in socio-economic research at the University, she was motivated to do something that had a tangible social impact.

Craftwork was a vehicle to nurture the creativity and spirit so abundant in Africa and provide opportunities to mostly women who had been through very tough times and had had the least opportunities in society. With the establishment of democracy in South Africa, new opportunities had become apparent. International tourists started to visit in greater numbers and so Carey and Brendan focused on small creative gifts aimed at this market.

Brendan brought the confidence that was required to go on one's own, the vision and the necessary technical skills that are required to do handwork. Ideas came out of a combination of combining Zulu traditional craft with contemporary functional ideas. This has been their recipe and product development has come out of the use of 4 principle mediums - clay, wire, beads and leather. Carey informed the designs in the early years but now there is more sharing of ideas by the key artists. None of the women who they met and trained along the way had previous art skills. In fact apartheid South Africa discouraged art amongst the black population. Art was not offered as a school subject and people’s cultural heritage was severely undermined and undervalued.

Carey and Brendan endeavor to apply the principles of fair trade in their business dealings. At present this project directly supports 22 people. They have a central workshop where much of the clay work is produced and managed by Constance Ntshalintshali and Nes Gumede as well as the finishing and packaging of products, managed by Gugu Mkhize and Vuyi Mncwabe.

The Durban based group has been in operation since 1995 and have collaborated with many valuable individuals along the way. Unfortunately, in May this year they lost a very special man, Moses Magwaza who died at 41 from a sudden sickness. He had been with the group for 6 years and Brendan had spent many months training him in wire framing. He became so skilled and was very creative in his work. This was a very sad loss to everyone. His brother Sbu Magwaza is presently learning some of these skills.

Thokozane Ndlangisa who started with the group as the first artist in 1995 is ready and experienced to add value to the business and thereby expand her own horizons. Carey and Brendan have sponsored her on a fabric-painting course in November and encourage her to make use of the distribution channels that have been established over the years. They hope to see her move onto another level and have the opportunity to experience business dynamics for herself. She would require assistance in product development and small business skills.

Carey would like to see the group move into higher value products that improve the rewards to everyone involved. She has a vision to incorporate grass work as a new medium into the business. The idea of mixing the mediums of beads, wire and grass is aesthetically appealing and has enormous potential. The grass weaving would be sourced from the Central Drakensberg area and then final finishes done in the Durban area. Energy and research, product development and training would be required for such a project. This project could also present the opportunity to start a new venture, which could see Carey and Fikile Khubeka as joint partners with equal shares. Fikile has had a long history with the group and over this time has exhibited the greatest potential to be a business partner. Her passion is to have her own business and there is no doubt that she has what it takes to drive it.

The Durban based group are all wonderful and loyal women, most of them are the primary breadwinners and have many dependants. Life is a struggle for many of these women, as HIV/AIDS has devastated families. But having a job and earning an income places all these women in empowered positions and gives them more confidence to deal with these struggles. For Carey and Brendan it is not so much about the products produced but more the reasons for doing it and more importantly the benefits that come to all those involved.



While there are five women working full time in the workshop, the beading and wirework is done by women and men respectively in their own homes. Carey sees them on a weekly basis, collects products and dispatches materials to them. Working from home gives the workers the flexibility to perform the many roles they play in family life. In addition, much time that is required to travel in the public transport system is also minimized.

Products coming from this group include wire and bead animals that Zanzibar sells.  This group also pioneered the “workplace wildlife” range, handmade copper and steel wire companions for your desk in the office! Purchasing these products supports a small business epitomizing the cooperation between South African races so critical to the success of South Africa in the post-Apartheid era.

Zanzibar Trading Company