I had an amazing time at the Abuja Arts and Craft Village today. Few weeks back, I was searching for something on google when I stumbled on it.
Funnily, it’s located at an area that I’ve cruised many times without paying it a second glance. It’s directly opposite Sheraton Hotel and behind The Shehu Musa Yaradua Centre and Silverbird Galleria. The address is Cadastral Zone, Central Business District, Abuja.
I actually found out/got to know there was a footpath that led straight into the Silverbird galleria from the Arts and Crafts Village.
How to navigate your way…
The Arts and Crafts Village is easily accessible from Wuse Market. Wuse is a very popular place in Abuja, being the commercial nerve centre of the city.
So, from Wuse Market, walk down the bridge and take a cab heading towards Areas 3 or 11. That cab will drop you directly in front of the village or just say you want to stop at Sheraton. It’s the same drive but just farther if you are going to Sahad Stores or Ceddi Plaza.
I actually left home for Sahad Stores to get a new frame for my broken recommended glasses. After spending some minutes at the Sahad Stores, I flagged down a cab and told him to take me to the arts village. I was already in the cab before I remembered I wanted to get to Ceddi Plaza. But it was too late….
I got down inside the sprawling edifice of the Arts and Crafts Village and walked down into the first shop that caught my fancy.
The shop owner was very warm; his name is Gambo and he hails from Bauchi. Gambo is married and his wife lives in Bauchi. He told me he was born January 1st 1985. He has
been at the market for 10years.
I said, “Wow, you are very lucky to have been born on the first day of the year.”
He smiled and looked genuinely smitten by me.
He told me his father has four shops in the market and we were in one of them. The next shop was theirs also. I didn’t ask to see the remaining two.
“Where is your dad now?”
“He travelled to Kano,” he replied.
“Where do you get all these artefacts?” I asked.
“Benin, Zaria, Kano or sometimes Benue,”
he said. Then, he turned to ask me seriously,
“What would you like to eat and drink? Indomie and egg? Coke?”
In my mind I was like “eat ke? Did I hear him correctly? Eat, when you don’t know me from anywhere. Who does that?”
Honestly it looked absurd. I was not even some family member on a visit.
“No, you don’t have to bother; I am fine,” I told him, smiling sheepishly.
“But shebi na me ask you, na me wan buy am for you.” So he rigidly insisted.
After going back and forth,
“OK, coke is fine.”
“Just coke? What of biscuit? Or any other thing? Well, I dey come.”
He hurried out and left me in the shop. I looked around nervously.
As a Yoruba girl that grew up in the west, we were raised to reject or should I rather say, be suspicious or wary of unmerited kindness from strangers. You know those rules on not talking to a stranger and how you’d disappear if you do? Not to assist anyone to carry their load else they use you for rituals?(maybe this should be a separate post)It took me a lot of time to actually dump that mentality.
Strange as it seemed, I didn’t have any bad feeling. When he came back with coke and cookies, I was overwhelmed. Then, as I was about sipping the coke, one tiny thought occurred to me.
“What do you think he’s going to demand after this coke?”
I will save you the rest of the gist till later. But here are five strong reasons to visit the Arts and Craft Village.
1. I already mentioned number 1 above.
It’s to drink free coke and eat cookies (lol).
Don’t mind me. I already bought a neck piece from him before he offered hospitality. So the number one real reason is that
there are hundreds of beautiful handmade or crafted African designs of neck piece, wristbands, beautiful dresses and tops, adire (tie and dye), handfans, artworks, calabash, wall decoration, figurines, precious stones, Ankara schoolbags and handbags and many more.
You will always get something beautiful out of the place either as a piece of souvenir, decoration or for personal adornment.
2. Because it’s a village with huts and thatched roof, the environment is serene and inviting. I have never really seen a hut with thatched roof in real life except in Igbo movies but today I sat down inside one. I loved the look of the hut, the interior and the pathways.
3. It’s a good place to hang out with friends
Are you a tourist on vacation? A newbie in the FCT? Do you need to unwind?This is a good place to catch some fun with friends. There is an open thatched roof that has fancy chairs and table where you can sit. You will get to snap so many beautiful pictures (The background will be very good), speak with the traders who are very nice and courteous and eat good food. There is a place for food close to the entrance. I didn’t have time to go near it though.
4. If you are an Arts Enthusiast or Writer, this place can serve as your muse.
Or if you have been suffering from writers block, this place can rejuvenate your brain and give it the right ideas. You will develop another angle of inspiration just by being here. You can sit down at the open thatched roof and work on your laptop.
I came across a lot of foreigners taking pictures and pricing artefacts. A woman came looking to buy a tall giraffe. My friend Gambo showed her the one he had but it was short.
5. The items are affordable.
Yes they are affordable if you meet someone like Gambo(lol).
I had read that most of the traders were extortionists and that items were pricey. Well, not necessarily so.
Because the neck piece I got was 500 naira
(I priced it from 800).There were purses made with snake skin, crocodile skin, leopard skin etc. that sold from 1000-1500.
But if your own na to buy figurine, I honestly didn’t price those ones but be ready to part with a good sum. Those figurines looked scary.
OK, he gave me some African bands too and said ‘whatever I give you take it as a gift from God.’
Gambo could have given me his full shop if I asked(phew)
I had a jolly good time and at last, Gambo made his demand: my number. I gave him my second line. He must have been trying to reach me by now. Let me go and check my phone.
Have you ever been to the Abuja Arts and Crafts Village? Would you be willing to go there based on this review?
Note: I wrote this post last night.
There will be more pictures on the Facebook page. Its taking too long to load it here.