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CHRISTMAS IN AFRICA (article first published : 1999-08-15)

Established two years ago as a special project of The Liberty Life Foundation, Buy-Africa aims to increase job creation by developing southern African manufactured products and exposing them to world markets via an Internet electronic catalogue. The database now has over 700 manufacturers and 2,200 products listed in the categories Art, Craft, Lifestyle and Industrial.

In 1998, Buy-Afrika asked South African crafters to create a range of African Christmas trees. This year, the invitation is to make Christmas decorations unique to Africa, using any material available locally such as wire, metal, seeds, grasses, flowers, plastic, glass, cloth or recycled materials.

Christmas in Africa 1999 is a chance to develop crafters’ skills into a profitable business and to show them that their products have international marketing potential. Buy-Afrika undertakes to market the winning entries on behalf of the people that make them. The 1998 winning Christmas trees were taken to the New York International Gift Fair in January this year where tremendous interest shown by buyers resulted in substantial orders. This year’s winning entries will again be taken to international and national trade fairs.

There are three categories: decorations to hang on a tree, standing decorations and nativity scenes. The judges are looking for innovation, job creation potential, consumer appeal, environmental consideration, relevance to Africa, value for money and export potential. Buy-Afrika will sponsor prizes to the value of R25,000 this year with each category winner receiving R5,000 and runners-up R2,500 each. An overall prize of R2 500 will be awarded to the best overall entry.

The competition deadline is September 15 and KZN entries can be delivered to the BAT Shop at the BAT Centre in Durban on (031) 332-0451. Other judging centres include Buy-Afrika in Johannesburg on (011) 487-1198, Montebello Centre in Cape Town on (021) 686-9996, Ribollo Tourism Association in the Northern Province on (015) 556-3690, Bothaville in the Free State on (0565) 154-611 and the Anne Bryant Gallery in East London on (043) 722-4044. Further information or entry forms from Eugenie Drakes at Buy-Afrika on (011) 487-1198/1638 or e-mail: buyafrika@mail.liberty.co.za


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