Zambia’s capital Lusaka is known for some excellent open air markets to explore. If it’s souvenirs, curios, wooden statuettes and Zambian clothes, then Pakati market is the place to be! Every Saturday and Sunday, Lusaka holds this huge market in the Arcades shopping mall parking lot on Great East Road.
Under the shade of green and blue tarpaulins, sellers of souvenirs lay out their wares for shoppers to browse under the hot Zambian sun. There are many great traditional crafts that can be bought here.
Baskets are produced by both Zambian men and women, using materials such as bamboo, liana vines, grass, papyrus palm leaves, and sisal fibres in the weaving. The designs are all dyed with naturally occurring elements, such as ground up roots and bark. While these baskets are now sold primarily as souvenirs, historically they could be used for fishing, storage, tableware, sieving, and other uses. Unfortunately, higher demand means that these baskets are increasingly being commercially manufactured.
Woodworking is also found at Pakati; expect to find an abundance of masks, statues and figurines, necklaces and beads, tables, stools, and musical instruments. Beware fake ebony wood, however, as lighter wood coloured black with shoe polish is sometimes passed off as ebony (as the urban legend goes). There are pots and vases for sale too, as well as clothing and materials known as chitenge, a brightly-coloured and lively patterned wraparound garment. They can be used as clothing, as wraps for babies, and are popular as a souvenir item.
If you’re passing through Zambia on a Saturday or a Sunday, it’s well worth dropping by Pakati market to pick up some great Zambian souvenirs. Whether they’re traditional or a cheap knockoff, the curios on display are certainly lots of fun to browse!