Aqal ✿ Stories from Africa

The aqal is a Somali thatched hut that is often adorned by weavings, making it a live-in gallery. You can read how Muhubo Suleiman recreated the aqal of her childhood in a Melbourne high-rise apartment. Our stories from Africa often involve these traditional spaces, like the boma or makan or kraal.

Explore the many beautiful and inspiring objects kept alive in Africa today.

Lockdown has revealed the enduring crafts of Morocco - Our podcast interview with the Moroccan brass smith Hamza El Fasiki reflects on the crafts that survive in Morocco when the tourist no longer come.
“Things from before”: Baskets in Gorongosa - Frances Potter reflects on the role of craft in Gorongosa, Mozambique, where life is precarious but memories are long.
A diamond in the rough: Developing a discourse on contemporary African jewellery  - Papers are invited for a conference in South Africa that seeks to recognise discourse about contemporary jewellery in Africa.
Hamza ✿ Enter the circle - Kimsuka Iyer introduces Hamza, a Moroccan brass smith, bookbinder and oud musician.
Linda Butcher ✿ Inside the tent in Egypt - An Australian quiltmaker is inspired by Egyptian tentmakers to produce an award-winning coverlet.
iThongo: Messages from the ancestors - Andile Dyalvane's new work inscribes Xhosa objects into ceramic seating that supports a gathering of his OoJola clan.
Paula do Prado ✿ My abuela’s hands - Paula do Prado shares the story of her family’s epic story from Africa via Uruguay to Australia, as reflected in her intricately threaded creations.
The Afro-Peruvian cajón: Reclaiming a humble percussion crate as one’s own - Aromica Bhattacharya tracks a percussion crate from its invention by African slaves to its eventual acknowledgment as intrinsic to Peruvian cultural heritage.
Gnawa Guembri: Resonance of a lost past - In the fifth instalment of #africamade_n_played, Gary Warner writes how Western ears are deaf to the essence of this West African instrument. 
Balafon: wood-tongue-talk - In the fourth instalment of #africamade_n_played, Gary Warner writes about an enchanting West African instrument that gives voice to trees.
Mbira and kalimba ✿ Anatomy of the “thumb piano” - In the third instalment of #africamade_n_played, Gary Warner reveals the inner life of this captivating instrument from southern Africa.
Ogene & Oja ✿ Talking instruments of a playful Igbo crew - For the second instalment in #africamade_n_played, Gary Warner is inspired by the flirtatious whistling and clanging of the Igbo crew, Ejyk Nwamba.
Enkarewa: The Maasai gift of gifts - Denis Odinga Okiya and John Kamanga share their knowledge of the magnificent Maasai beaded necklace.
uhadi & umruhbe ✿ a resonant Xhosa tradition - Gary Warner begins a series #africamade_n_played with a Xhosa stringed instrument that resonates through the body and is played today by a new generation of performers.
New Zulu beads to be worn with pride - Mbuso Zondi's commitment to his Zulu culture is reflected in his project to create new beads that use more traditional materials that those imported in the past.
Fulu Muziki ✿ Kinshasa noisicians + eco-culturists - Gary Warner begins his series #AfricaMade_n_played with a Congolese ensemble featuring the exuberant instrumentarium of Pisko Crane.
Quarterly Essay ✿ Moffat Takadiwa: The art of small things - Jenan Taylor returns to her southern African roots, drawn by the mysterious smell of soap, to discover the place where Zimbabwe's iconic sculptor gathers his materials and community.
Muhubo Suleiman ✿ A home within a home - In her Melbourne flat, Muhubo Suleiman has re-created the aqal, thatched hut, her childhood home in Somalia.
Iziqhaza: Designs that open your ears - Hlengiwe Dube recounts the elaborate Zulu tradition of earplugs that inspired her baskets.
Urgent Adornment in South Africa - Beverley Price explains the creative principle of her expedited jewellery and how it is grounded in South African life.
[Re:]Entanglements in Nigeria - Nigerian artists Jennifer Ogochukwu Okpoko and Dr RitaDoris Edumchieke Ubah are inspired by colonial photographs to make new textile work drawing on the heritage of uli body and wall painting.
Stepping out: Africa Fashion Week Middle East - Ansie van der Walt talks to organisers of a new fashion festival in the UAE and profiles leading fashion designers from the region
Life in a boma - Anniina Sandberg shares her experience of living in a Tanzanian Maasai family compound with the goats and an occasional scorpion.
25,000 knots: The hands that make Baba Tree baskets - Awuni Ayine tells us about the fans she makes that were traditionally used for funerals.
Izandla Zethu: Fine jewellery with what’s at hand - Izandla Zethu involves gathering materials at hand in a South African township to craft jewellery that combines honesty and elegance.
Ndomo: Beauty from mud in Mali - Rebecca Hoyes visits Segou on the Niger river to learn the secret of bogolan, mud cloth.
I wear letters from the past - Lara Daryl Landsberg re-creates letters from her Oupa to create a jewellery series that reconnects with her childhood.
The Eastern Cape made visible through jewellery - Joani Groenewald reflects how her jewellery is drawn from the South African landscape in which she is embedded.
My father was an elephant: Clay dreams in Nigeria - Ngozi Omeje shares her journey through the soothing medium of clay and how it helps honour her family and inspire good works.
Isifociya: The revival of Zulu adornment that protects and beautifies - Khanya Mthethwa transforms the traditional Zulu girdle into a fashion item for proud South Africans
Simb, or the rise and fall of the Fake Lion in Senegal - Joseph Ndione laments the demise of the man-lion street performance that once celebrated the power of nature.
Moffat Takadiwa: The art of small things - Jenan Taylor returns to her southern African roots, drawn by the mysterious smell of soap, to discover the place where Zimbabwe's iconic sculptor gathers his materials and community.
Litema, the pride of a Mosotho woman’s home - ‘Matsooana Sekokotoana is inspired by the litema designs on the homes of her country, which reflect daily life in the villages of Lesotho.
Wissa-Sophy: Back to the woven garden - Passent Nossair returns to the refreshing gardens of El Harraneya in Giza, Egypt, where she learns the remarkable story of Wissa Wassef, whose belief in the inner creativity of children helped build a weaving workshop of international renown.
Egypt reclaims niello: A craft for kings and sultans - On the banks of the Nile, Passent Nossair finds the source of a quintessential Egyptian craft.
Creating sanctuary through beading: The South Sudanese Elders group - Caroline Lenette finds herself welcomed with beads into the South Sudanese women's group.
Andile Dyalvane ✿ uTyityilizi - Our December laurel goes to the South African ceramicist Andile Dyalvane for his powerful vessel titled, uTyityilizi.
4,000-year-old string discovered in Egypt - At Garland, we love stories of string. This rich article from a publication about coastal cultures includes the story of how perfectly preserved papyrus rope was discovered in a man-made cave in the ancient Egyptian harbour of Saww. String-lovers will enjoy this.
Ankara print histories alive in the streets of Johannesburg - Belinda Cook explores the revival of home-grown African fashion on the streets of Joburg.
Devalued Currencies, Metaphorical Tapestries: “Yaw Owusu – All That Glitters” - Seen from afar, Yaw Owusu's artworks look like pleasantly eye-catching geometrical tapestries made with a sort of glittery paint.
Paying the school fees: Bolga baskets in Ghana - NGO TradeAid is based in Bolgatanga, in the Upper East region of Ghana. Its goal is to end poverty in the northern regions. We hear from the weavers about the value of Bolga baskets in the lives of themselves and those they care for.
A new festival for Madagascar, the home of wild silk - Indrasen Vencatachellum, long time Director of UNESCO's Craft and Design Programme, introduces a new festival of natural dyes and textiles for Madagascar.
The social lamellophone - Gary Warner guides us through the journey of a lamellaphone, from its history in Africa to its urban reconstruction in Sydney as a social object. This article betrays a unique interplay between art, craft, music and community.
Zambia, I presume by Auditor Chiyonkoma - Nearby the majestic Victoria Falls, Auditor Chiyonkoma has created a business making wooden objects so that tourists can take away works of Zambian craft along with their memories. Auditor's story gives us a glimpse of how someone comes to be a maker in Africa today.
The Bolga basket: Ahmedabad comes to Accra - The purpose of the initiative is to adapt sensitively basket-making traditions, practices and challenges facing Africa’s women basket weavers, through drawing on the experience and knowledge of India’s traditional craft and highly developed design sectors.
Binga baskets and other treasures of Zimbabwean craft - Leah Mugwagwa celebrates Zimbabwean crafts, particularly the Binga basket.