After searching high and low for straw Fulani hats to give during the Kajuru tour with Naija Nomads, my hunt and uncle led me to the Abuja arts and crafts village. It is a village of goodies and wonderful people. All things arts and crafts can be found there just as the name suggests.
It’s easy to overlook it as it’s beside Sheraton Abuja but once you find it you’ll be delighted. There are huts everywhere with people from different tribes all selling their wares. It is truly a vibrant village with different nooks and crannies.Each hut is made from red clay and has a thatched roof. My uncle left to my own devices so I was free to roam about and mingle.
I was told that most art works there were made by local artists/artisans from near and far. I would describe it as heaven for souvenir lovers and art collectors.
While strolling around, I had the pleasure of meeting a pleasant man who welcomed me into his hut. I sat down and Mr. Martin went on to delight me with many tales of his life. He moved from Benue State and has no regrets leaving his job to come and sell artworks, as he was able to train all his kids from the profit. Foreigners are their biggest clients as they seem to appreciate these things more than Nigerians do. How right he was; as I was leaving, I saw a couple of tourists coming to look for gift items. I felt it was a shame that Nigerians don’t value what they have.. You can listen to bits of our conversation below.
After about 30 mins of talking, I had to move on but before leaving I bought something from his store and Koko met some of her family members in his hut.
Can you guess what I bought? *hint – it’s colorful
The rest of my walk was sheer bliss. The environment was peaceful but also exciting. I saw everything from carvings to jewelry. Hut owners kept calling out to me to buy their wares and take their pictures. Alot of them were also willing to pose for my camera. Traders willing to tell you a bit about their selves while using it as a marketing ploy to get you to patronize them.
I eventually found my hats at shop 11 but I felt like I gained much more than I went there for. It was educative, eye opening and a delight to find a village dedicated just to Nigerian arts and crafts.
The Nigerian arts are a thriving sector and hopefully more people realise this and give the the much needed push they need. This could perhaps be like Spitafields Art Market in London if harnessed properly.
Most importantly I felt very welcome there. I didn’t feel like a ‘foreigner’ among them. With the situation in the country, it has become easy to stereotype people from certain places and tribes, but I felt nothing but love and warmth while walking around and talking with various people. We should always keep an open mind when exploring different places.
If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to do in Abuja, with unique artifacts from various regions in Nigeria, you might want to start here. You might just find the souvenir you’ve been searching for. As for myself, I will definitely be visiting again.
Have you been there? What did you think about it?
Enjoy the overload of pictures below and hopefully you get an idea of just how awesome it is.
Entry – Free
POS is available in some huts.
Location – Central Area, beside Sheraton Abuja
Cost of Fulani Hats – N1,200 ($6) – I haggled for the price.
*please note that review and pricing is based on time of visit.