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THE ART OF AFRICAN SHOPPING (article first published : 2005-06-15)

All serious shoppers know that the real object of an excursion is not the actual purchasing of an item, but the experience and rituals involved.

With this in mind Adam Levin takes us on a shopping trip through Africa par excellence in his book The Art of African Shopping.

He brings to life Africa’s artworks and crafts – both old and new - and he reveals the vibrancy and magic of the so–called “Dark Continent”. Through her art forms we are lead on a journey from looted antiques, now preserved in the world’s museums, to Afro-kitsch. Levin’s inimitable style, quirky sense of humour, and personal anecdotes liven each chapter.

Adam Levin is a South African author and journalist currently writing a memoir of his battle with AIDS, as well as his first novel – a story of voodoo and trickery in the world of African art. His first publication, The Wonder Safaris, was published by Struik in 2003. The critically acclaimed work is a collection of narratives, travelogues and portraits drawn from his journeys in Africa. During these trips he made numerous television documentaries on African popular culture.

Too many “safari” books are about game reserves. The skills, warmth, and joy of the humans who live in Africa have largely been ignored. Levin vividly describes how, in an area apparently devoid of all living creatures, a rural market springs to life with all its hustle and bustle, wary buyers and hopeful sellers, and within 24 hours has disappeared. Once again all is quiet and deserted.

He evokes the grace and elegance of East African women wearing brilliantly coloured kangas as they go about their daily lives. This book describes an Africa where an ancient culture of trade and industry thrives despite the shadow of Western consumerism.

Adam Levin has vast experience in buying and selling African art and crafts. Each chapter describes the history of a particular craft, and how to identify antiques both real and fake. He provides “shopping lists” of various articles with full descriptions of those worth buying, and a directory of the best places to shop for African Art.

The author’s enthusiasm and passion for African life makes this warm and informative book a great read.

The Art of African Shopping is published by Struik Publishers in softcover with flaps. Retail price R159.95 - Sheina Wood




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