With a population of 58 million, Tanzania is the 24th most populous country in the world but also one of the poorest. Today, the country ranks 160th in the Human Development Index, which includes 191 countries in total.
Approximately 80% of the Tanzanian population lives in rural areas that are still landlocked. Each Tanzanian tribe has its own customs and cultural cues associated with its history and region. Despite the enormous cultural and linguistic diversity, Tanzania's ethnic groups are united by national identity and a common language, Swahili.
This diversity can also be felt in the field of handicrafts, which is a great source of inspiration in the country. Here, people work with wood, mosaics, invent musical instruments and weave beaded jewelry.
It was after several trips to the Iringa region that I had the chance to meet local artisans specialized in basketry. Indeed, it is from this central region of Tanzania that the majority of the baskets woven by the Hehe people come from.
Today, more than 70% of Tanzanians generate their income from agriculture. Most of the weavers are actually farmers who optimize their milulu production by transforming this grass into beautiful baskets that are then sold locally or exported. The money earned allows them to pay for their children's schooling, medical expenses and to invest in new weaving techniques to improve the quality of their products.
The situation of women in Tanzania is still very precarious. While women are gaining more and more rights in the cities, it remains very complicated in rural areas. Indeed, 64% of women are illiterate in the country, which makes it difficult for them to enter the formal economy.
The protection of women's rights is also threatened by long-standing cultural traditions such as polygamy, bride price and genital mutilation. 31% of girls in Tanzania are married before their 18th birthday and 5% before the age of 15. According to UNCICEF, Tanzania has the 11th highest number of child brides in the world.
Our production process is rooted in a commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. We proudly source materials from local markets, farms, artisans - such as sweetgrass and Mill grass - while also supporting organic yarn that's spun by hand with hues derived directly from plants native to the area.
Rwanda weaving process
In Tanzania, the traditional art of basket weaving is an intricate and environmentally-friendly process. It starts with harvesting Milulu grass near water sources - requiring hours spent in bright sunshine. After carrying it back to their village on heads, women prepare this strong material by drying in sunlight before dyeing if needed. Once these steps are complete the craftsmanship begins! Handmade entirely from local components without any plastics or chemicals involved – part skilful technique and part cultural legacy passed down over generations - a truly sustainable tradition emerges; blending ancestral wisdom with modern eco consciousness for each finished piece that celebrates Tanzanian ingenuity at its finest!