Why do you call the people you work with partners and how does this 'partnership' work?
We do this to enact the United Nations/World Bank Millennium Development Goal No.8, which calls for global partnerships that ensure sustainable development and for partners to work together to ensure trade is conducted fairly. We are well-versed in this area, with our company founder, holding a Master of Science degree in this field.
Moreover to achieve fair trading standards, we approached our 'partners', asking them how much they would like to earn from us, if we could establish a long-term, dependable, revenue stream for them.
Is Harmattan Handmade a charity?
No, definitely not. We want to get away from the perpetual image of "Africa and charity." While most of our partners live in difficult economic environments, they are not charity cases and do not wish to be seen as such. They are artists and artisans, whose abilities once in an open market deserve to be rewarded according to their exceptional talent and the quality of their work.
What makes your Ngwenya Jewellery ethical and sustainable?
Most African jewellery items made from animal parts such as claws, hides and ivory pieces, require slaughtering an animal to obtain its body part. Crocodile teeth are a much different resource. Nile crocodiles in the Zambezi region can live to around 75 years of age and grow up to 8 000 teeth in their lifespan. As crocodiles constantly lose their teeth, this makes them an abundant and more viable jewellery making option. Our partner Aaron, simply gathers teeth that he and his family come across. He does not extract them from crocodiles mouths nor does he hunt crocodiles to obtain their teeth.
Are there many crocodiles in that part of Africa?
Page 9 of this publication from the foremost authority on international animal protection, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), states that "the crocodile population in the Upper Zambezi is not declining... and is robust".
How are the hand-carved frames you make sustainable?
The timber for our frames comes from a sustainably managed forestry district in Ruwa. Deforestation is a major concern of ours. Southern and Eastern Africa are prone to cyclical droughts and neglecting environmental standards would be detrimental to our overall vision for sustainable development.
Do you create bespoke or custom-made items for clients?
Possibly. You should contact us directly, so we can get a clear understanding of what you require and what timescales are feasible to facilitate your request. However only ceramics could be produced in a very short timeframe. We would anticipate around a 90 day waiting period for other bespoke items, depending on demand.
Where are you actually based and operating from?
Our company is registered in the United Kingdom and our premises are in Edinburgh, Scotland. However everyone involved in the company is African.
Is everything you sell made in Africa?
Aside from our ceramics range, all our products are made in Africa. Our ceramics are made in Scotland by Orieji, who is a partner at Harmattan Handmade. She grew up in Sahelian Africa, personally encountering the Harmattan wind many times and her work draws on her upbringing there.