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Traditional African products big buzz at trade fair

Posted on Nov 18, 07:47PM | IANS

Bags made from recycled plastic, exquisite handicrafts, jewellery and lamps -- the South African pavilion at the India International Trade Fair (IITF) is getting a great response from visitors "owing to their love for handicrafts".

"Indians love arts and crafts and that is the common bond here between our two cultures. We have got handicrafts that depict and reflect our culture," Jabulani Mhlabini of Ababumbi Arts and Ceramics told IANS.

Mhlabini said the ceramic vases, trays, lamps, show pieces and other decorative products were all handmade. The designs and pictures on them depicted the Zulu culture, its origin and evolution.

While a small ceramic showpiece costs Rs.300, a vase, reminiscent of ancient Zulu tradition, was priced at Rs.3,000.

"This is the second occasion that I have visited the fair. Last time in 2008, I made a profit of Rs.80,000. This time I am sure I will cross the Rs.one lakh-mark," said Mhlabini proudly.

Another stall that saw a deluge of shoppers was the one selling hand bags made of recycled plastic in vivid colours and patterns. The most popular of them was a bag sporting the Indian tri-colour hues.

"We have made this (tri-coloured) bag specially for India and a lot of people are buying it," said Paliline Moseki of Itihabolole Waste Management, adding that the bag was priced at Rs.1,800 per piece, while all the other bags had a fixed price of Rs.1,100.

Explaining the process of making the bags, Moseki said that after plastic bags are collected, they are cleaned and shredded. The impurities are removed and then the shredded pieces are woven together.

"These bags are very durable and strong. They also help in protecting the environment as we are recycling plastic," said Moseki.

The creativity does not end here.

Other products that generated a lot of buzz included beautiful lamps made from telephone wires, decorative items and wall hangings depicting African animals made from steel wires and wool, traditional Zulu dresses and caps, among others.

The 32nd edition of the annual IITF opened Wednesday with over 6,000 exhibitors from India and abroad. Organisers expect around 20 lakh visitors during the 14-day event.