One of my fondest memories of KwaZulu Natal is the rural parts of it. The one thing that stood out for me is the beautiful baskets that are sold on the side of the busy roads or at the entrance of the different Drakensburg accommodations and resorts. This is why I am so excited to share my friend Sonia’s new business venture that is informed by her experience of different parts of Africa. Suraya Baskets is a small boutique store that sources and sells handcrafted baskets from all over Africa.
Sonia is a Kenyan-born who grew up in South Africa.African crafts like baskets are often reduced to being mementoes from Africa which leads to the erasure of their cultural significance. This is why I appreciate Suraya because on all of Suraya’s platforms like the website and Instagram – Sonia shares the intended use for all of the different baskets.
My favourite baskets are the plant baskets and canisters. Firstly, because I’m currently window shopping (or looking to adopt a plant). Secondly, I am a hoarder so I can never run out of things to store. I think I need to also mention the Ukhamba baskets because of their shape and the patterns on them.
Q: What is Suraya and why did you decide to get into this business?
A: SURAYA is a micro-entity, that was founded by me. My whole life I have always been intrigued by Africa. Africa is on its league filled with generational motifs, richness and culture.
This prompted me to start digging and asking questions about us and our narrative. That is when I found basketry.
At Suraya, we are passionate about cultures, tradition and most of all, the creations made by people. We offer handcrafted products that will leave a pleasant memory in our customers and help position and showcase our cultural diversity to the world. Here, we try to merge worlds that we are passionate about. Our philosophy is ’Bridging the Gap Between Continents’.
Suraya believes in merging people from different worlds, their perspectives and countries. Allowing one to have a piece of something from somewhere.
All our products 100% grass, reeds, palms, banana leaves.
Q: Who makes your products and where are they from?
A: SURAYA believes in uplifting our very own. Being our saviours rather than waiting on a foreign ‘’saviour”. I work with dedicated, and gifted women who weave these baskets from southern and eastern parts of Africa. All these women have different stories to tell as to why they make these baskets.
These vary from family members who passed down the gift, to Zambia’s close family friends who are passionate about maintaining the African narrative, to women from Rwanda who migrated to SA after war. I also have Zulu women from KZN who weave baskets to help uplift their communities, families and circumstances.
Q: How do you pick your baskets?
A: All baskets are true artworks and, as such, are all unique. It is thus difficult to qualify or categorize artworks in terms of prices and sizes. So many other factors play a significant role – pattern, colours used, the negotiation that has taken place for every individual basket, quality etc. Therefore, all items at our store are carefully selected.
Q: Where can people find you?
A: One can find me on Facebook Instagram and Afrikrea.