SANGANAI MEDIA TOUR – ELEPHANT WALK ARTISTS VILLAGE TRUMPED THE MIGHTY VICTORIA FALLS ON DAY ONE
(Posted 08th September 2019)
(Some of the beads are hundreds of years old, came from across the continent of
Africa and have been re-worked to make some of the most classy jewelry in this
range I have seen in a very long time)
When visiting the town of Victoria Falls one might be forgiven to think that from the moment of landing at Zimbabwe’s present showcase airport the rush will be on to visit the falls and the surrounding rainforest.
Of course, the mighty Victoria Falls, after which the town is named, is a must visit location, one of several on the African continent one should see and explore during one’s lifetime.
But, that said, on day one of our visit to Zimbabwe – where the annual Sanganai World Tourism Expo is taking place later this week in Bulawayo – did our minders from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority do something unexpected.
It was not to the falls where we were headed after a late lunch, but lo and behold to a place called Elephant Walk.
On first sight I sighed and thought ‘aha, another curio shopping expedition‘ before eventually standing in awe of what there was to discover.
Of course are curio sales available at the entrance part for anyone who pops in for window or real shopping but it is what comes next which was a real eye opener, having me eat my earlier thoughts on the double.
Owner Gail van Jaarsveldt and a true Jackie of All Trades by the name of Christie Brookstein – more about her later to show that she truly is also a Master of those diverse trades – took their time to introduce me, and other members of our media group – to a world of wonders as they put it, very much in line with the main tag line of Destination Zimbabwe.
Says Christie’s website (www.ndaucollectionstore.com): Come with us on a journey into the exotic and rare, a chimerical world of precious metals and gemstones, rare African trade beads, luxurious leathers and found materials, where skilled artisans create opulent jewellery, adornments, fragrance and collectibles – The Ndau Collection.
I can hear the ‘Yeah, where have I heard that before‘ or ‘She sure is good with her marketing slogan but will reality match it?‘ and I can’t say I blame anyone for being sceptical. Remember, I myself thought of the place as a mere curio sales stop until I saw what I saw and knew I’d share it with my readers.
The team of local workers, preparing all sorts of jewelry, oozed confidence in what they were doing and seemingly worked without direct supervision or instructions other than to finish the piece they were working on.
Bungles made from pure silver, crocodile skin bracelets also lined with silver and of course a wide range of necklaces surely must make the hearts jump of every fashion conscious woman, keen to wear only original, bespoke and entirely hand crafted pieces and are ready to pay a fair price for those.
Christie took us from the production room to the rooms where finished items were kept, and the walls were truly forming a glittering impression on my mind, seeing the beautiful pieces, all arranged in colour coding.
She went on to share with us how some of the beads, hundreds of years old, came from Mali and other parts of West Africa and were worked on to fit into a modern piece of jewelry, of course second to none and literally only available in Zimbabwe at this time at her shop inside Elephant Walk and through a range of top class hotel outlets.
As if the range of unique jewelry was not enough, does Christie also dabble in perfumes, using – what else – locally available ingredients and I fell for one named ‘Rainforest‘ which the scent immediately brought up the vision of standing under tall trees, the air filled with a spectacular array of smells, all good of course.
Her perfumes, stylishly packed in leather pouches, do not break the bank and no doubt, for those with independent minds and not brainwashed by the big cosmetics and perfume brands this is a great option to take home something very unique, in fact uniquely Zimbabwean, after a visit to Victoria Falls.
And if that all was not enough, is Christie also trying her hand in writing and will be making guest writer appearances on www.ATCNews.org covering conservation and travel topics from one of Africa’s iconic destinations.
What was a change meeting to start with, getting to know Christie and Gail, turned out to be the start of something much bigger, opening up another avenue to showcasing and promoting African excellence – in this case proudly Made in Zimbabwe.