By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Niger; Nigerien artist. Market. Photo by Christopher D. Roy.

It is common now to see imported manufactured wares offered for sale in African markets. One would assume that such products must necessarily be superior to the products that are made locally using “appropriate technology” and that their introduction into the economy marks the end of the production of “traditional” objects. Yet this has not been necessarily true. Africans continue to make pottery and weave textiles using ancient materials and techniques for many reasons. Usually the local products are less costly, and sometimes are preferred because food or beer prepared in imported containers does not taste as good (or the same). Locally woven textiles are usually considered much more prestigious than cheaper, less durable imported cloth and so are worn on special occasions.