In a close-knit studio in Nairobi’s Gikomba neighborhood, artisans carve these safari animal ornaments from olive wood. Typically men do the carving using hand tools, and women paint and polish the figures. These artisans are part of Kenya’s informal work sector known as jua kali, which means “hot sun” in Swahili and includes independent businesses from taxi drivers to small farmers to artisans.
Over the past several years, the jua kali sector—which employs as much as 70 percent of Kenya’s workforce—has become more organized. Government programs have opened up access to training and credit, provided raw materials including the olive wood used here, and helped expand markets for artisan’s goods by connecting them with international companies like National Geographic.
Each set of ornaments contains a zebra, giraffe, elephant, and cheetah. Please allow for small variations in each handmade carving.
Approximately 3 1/2"L x 2"H. Ribbons for hanging not included.