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A new fashion of giving to Africa

Africa is the hot story of the moment. Heads of State will be writing off billions and brokering deals with African governments relieving them of crippling national debts and securing trade benefits for the future. Money will pour into the sub-continent. Little old ladies and school kids will count out their small change and willingly hand it over to Bob Geldorf. Affluent European families will make internet donations at the click of a button.  And, everyone will feel good about helping Africa…..and so they should.

Meanwhile, most rural Africans will feel no benefit whatsoever and, most of the people of Africa live in rural areas. When you are trying to grow enough maize to feed your family and the elephants raid your grain store again; when education is free, but your daughter can’t go to school unless she has a uniform; when the malaria drugs you needed to save your baby’s life only costs a dollar, but you literally have not one cent to your name……then all the millions the Government don’t owe anymore won’t make any difference.

What makes a difference is having at least one person in the family who earns a wage. 

One person who knows that if they go to work every day they will make enough money to pay for the things that the family farm cannot provide…the school uniforms, the anti-retrovirals for Father, or the formula for the new baby who cannot be breastfed by Mum without the risk of passing on H.I.V. These are the stark realities of everyday life in Africa, and cannot be overcome by Emergency Relief or even ‘vanishing’ the national debt. They can only be remedied by people having an opportunity to work and earn money.

Tribal Textiles is a textile design organisation and manufacturing company in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley that has, for ten years, been steadily growing. They now employ between 150-220 Zambian staff and are the second biggest employer after the Government in Zambia’s Eastern Province.  In real terms, one person employed means ten people in a household with access to hard cash to solve their problems.

200 jobs means 2,000 people who have a better chance of reaching adulthood with their health and an education. Armed with these two weapons, poverty has less of a chance of keeping them in its grasp.

Dignity is surely one of the core human rights, and is an abundant resource in even the poorest of circumstances. If suffering is the spark that ignites high profile celebrities into giving so much of themselves to Live Aid and other admirable projects, then it is the human dignity of the people enduring this suffering that fuels this fire.

The dignity of African people coping with lives that most of us would not have the courage to confront each day, is one of the factors that elicits and deserves our support and help, and gives us the key to a long term solution. But this very dignity is often eroded by Aid and replaced by dependency. The people of Africa have never been overcome by the severity of their land, or by the hard work needed to harness it. They are proud and they are bound by family ties stronger than most of us will ever experience; they are true socialists sharing whatever they have with their relatives and immediate neighbours. We cannot replace this system with anything stronger, or that will serve them better.

We need to help Africa get back on its feet and maintain its dignity and pride. We need to give Africa a job, not continuous handouts, but a job that will pay for a school uniform this year, a bicycle and a bag of fertilizer next year, and a tin roof for the family house in three year’s time. This is how the quality of people’s lives gets better, and stays better.

Tribal Textiles also raises funds to support the community inspired and driven Malimba School.  The school is the brainchild of one young Zambian lady who wanted to be a teacher and started her own school.  The pupils’ parents moulded the bricks to build the classrooms, as their contribution to their kids’ education. This is how the standard of living in communities gets better, and stays better.

Tribal Textiles ….
• Strongly encourages fair trade practices
• Employs more women than any other business in the area
• Supports Aids Awareness and an anti-retroviral programs for its employees
• Supports the local community school project
• 20% of the organisation’s gross turnover is reflected in staff wages

Want to feel good about helping Africa? Buy something beautiful that is inspired by Africa and which helps African people alleviate poverty in their own families and communities, with dignity, with sustainability and with pride.

Contact Tribal Textiles by email at or visit them at

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