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The Lilayi Craft Market: A Case for Neighbourhood Markets

Updated: Mar 6

The craft market scene is a vibrant part of Lusaka culture. It's a social event with good food and definitely makes for a fund day out for the entire family.

A hand holding a traditional rattle made of a gourd
Some of the curios on sale at the market

Informal Trading Locations

Now with the recent council clean-up of vendors in the city centre and roadsides, could a case could be made for formally establishing small community markets in different areas where local communities could gather to trade? As much as we appreciate the cleaner streets, what happens to those people who can no longer trade on those street corners?

People begin informal selling because they are unemployed, or are employed but still need to supplement income. Ideally whatever income generating project they begin should grow to provide them the financial security they need. Community markets would not only provide a means for individuals to earn a living but would also strengthen those smaller communities as a whole.

The Lilayi Green Market

Recently, we took part in the Lilayi Green Market which was held at Twangale Water Park in Lilayi, which on that day showcased over 75 vendors! Although this market could be described as a upmarket event, there is no reason why schools, churches and other societies could not host similar events for their members and keep money circulating within that community.

The Lilayi Green Market is a staple on the local weekend market scene in Lusaka, usually taking place on the first Saturday of the month. It has a focus on promoting Zambian produce and crafts. It also encourages 'green' products, and boast's that all the products on sale are made in Zambia. In general, you do not find single-use plastic, and several vendors integrate recycled inputs into their final products.

As a small business, we enjoy taking part in events like this, as they also provide an excellent opportunity to meet the public and engage with other gardeners and environment enthusiasts. This community engagement is essential for us as this feedback is important as it inspires and the products we sell and the information we put on our website.

For example, Charity Mwakilima Ngoma is another plant vendor whom many gardeners will know as her family is active on the the local plant scene, through their nursery in Northmead and her landscaping business. Charity is an avid gardener and landscaper, you may have already seen her at other local markets, the Zambia Art and Design show and at the agricultural show. She is one of the leading suppliers of succulents in the city and definately the first person whom you call for large orders.

Charity's Succulents
Charity's Succulents

There is an interestingly diverse group of people selling products, from new entrepreneurs testing their products to hobbyists who are sharing their projects. Whenever you see someone selling at any market, just appreciate the creativity, time and money they have put in to bring their products to the market.

The Lusaka Craft Market Scene

There are several craft markets in Lusaka with the oldest being the Dutch Reformed Market in Kabulonga and perhaps the Sunday Market at Arcades Mall, Lusaka Food Market but you will find several craft markets spread throughout the city throughout the month. The Kabwata Cultural Village is the only one that is open all week where artisans sell predominantly tourist curios.

The local craft markets provide an outlet for local craftsmen to showcase their wares and often you find exceptional craftsmanship. Products range from clothing, home accessories and even furniture.

Artists especially benefit from this as this is usually the only place where they can promote themselves. When you do shop at a market, before you negotiate, take the time to appreciate the work that the artisan has done to bring a quality selection of products for you to choose from.

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