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souvenirs

Ipswich, England...
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souvenirs

Are there any items we should NOT buy in South Africa? What can we buy that will be of benefit to communities?

Cape Town
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1. Re: souvenirs

Eileen

The first question is very much easier to answer than the second.

Don't buy Rhino Horn, Elephant Tusks or anything made from them. Don't buy mounted Lion's, Cheetah's or Leopards Heads for your wall at home – certainly not ones you shot yourself! Items made from skins of animals like Springbok are usually OK, as these are farmed for meat all over SA and it is no different to buying a pair of leather shoes in the UK. Items from Ostrich leather are also excellent - if somewhat expensive.

Probably not a good idea to buy heroin, cocaine or the local Tik. Might get you into trouble! More relevantly check labels on anything you buy for a Made in South Africa Label. Even items such as South African flags or T-Shirts are often “Made in China”.

Positive recommendations are a bit more difficult. Just because an Item looks hand carved or hand painted doesn't mean that it was carved or painted by local people. They are often caved on a semi production line in a sweat shop in Indonesia, Vietnam or China – by someone who has never seen a Lion other than in the photo he has to copy. This goes for items sold at roadside markets or at Traffic Lights, just as much as more formal shops. If you can, buy items from someone who you can see at work. Talk to them for a couple of minutes and you will usually find out if they make them themselves or not.

To be honest I would say go for manufactured items with a clear Made in South Africa label. Particularly clothing which can be of excellent quality and superb Design – Cape Town is, after all, the designated World Design Capital for 2014. The Clothing Industry used to be one of the major employers in Cape Town, both for local consumption and for export. Many, many families were supported by one or two (usually) women who worked in the Salt River clothing factories. Sadly this employment has been savagely cut in recent years with cheap far eastern imports undercutting local production. The remaining industry needs to be strongly supported. In the same way lots of good local foodstuffs – and of course wine – provides employment and livelihood to many agricultural workers and their families, in poor rural communities. Developing employment in the mainstream economy, particularly for export, is of much greater benefit than focussing on supporting individual traditional craftsmen. When you go home consider buying a new Mercedes or BMW! Most of these cars for countries that drive on the left are produced in these companies South African factories – employing tens of thousands of people.

Edited: 06 December 2013, 13:44
Ipswich, England...
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2. Re: souvenirs

Thank you. I'm happy to say that the things you say I shouldn't buy are definitely NOT on my wish list.

I do check labels for country of origin and always buy items made in the country I am visiting.

Sadly I won't be buying a Merc. or a BMW. Our spare cash tends to go on travel experiences. At 62 and having arthritis, I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep that up but for now, I'll hang on to my 17 year old Fiat Punto for as long as it gets me from A to B.

I expect I will by some clothing and, perhaps, locally made jewellery but not the expensive kind. Cheap and cheerful, just like me.

I'll also buy some small gifts for friends at home but it's getting harder to find souvenirs that are not made in China or other Asian countries wherever we travel to.

Very much saddened by the demise of Nelson Mandela. All England is talking about that great man.

Somerset West...
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3. Re: souvenirs

I buy things that can be consumed and enjoyed and not collect dust.Our agriculture sector provide significant number of job and support rural development soconsider wine, olives, olive oil, dried fruit (sealed package), teas - rooibos, Buchu, honeybush, cancerbush or combinations ( these you can buy in most supermarkets. My favourite is the Biedouw brand - green packaging). If you are driving through the country side stop at a farmstall for jam, jelly, preserves, or "boerseep" - traditional soap cooked from animal fat and excellent for dry skin or removing organic stains from clothing. A range of local aloe skin products such as sunscreen, facial wash etc is also excellent

Ipswich, England...
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4. Re: souvenirs

Thank you Skimkat. Some good suggestions there. I do like aloe products so will definitely get some of those and the soap sounds like something I would go for.

5. Re: souvenirs

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