The role of eBay in trading African artefacts

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This a controversial area and this review aims at informing eBay policy.  It is also to assist others who trade in this arena to inform how they interact both with their sources and their customers.  Our experience has been that a good knowledge of the origins of our goods is important for our customers and helps to reinforce the credibility of the Fairtrade banner we trade beneath.  There are two distinct categories that need to be considered:

1.  Modern and current manufactured goods.

2. Cultural and semi-aged artefacts


The first of these categories was the stimulus for our enterprise and interest arose from many years spent in a number of African countries where beautiful goods were being produced locally but had little or no value in their local context.  During a three-year period working in Botswana  it became clear quite quickly that a range of local products might have hugely enhanced value of they could be presented in a different cultural context.  In the early days of the shop a motswana student studying at Oxford University became keenly interested in the enterpirse and a telling comment from her was that until then she had failed to realise how beautiful the things from her own country could be.  While living in Botswana I was stunned at the range of beauty and style of the indigenous pottery but these superb items had very little value locally and the craftsmen (and they were mostly men) who made these objects lived in terrible poverty usually at the margins of Botswana society.  In many African countries potmakers are viewed as magicians or witches and are often ostracised.

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