At Tongabezi we believe that travel lights up the soul. It draws attention to the parts of yourself you have neglected and teaches you lessons you didn’t know you needed.
So we also understand that our guests want to keep this experience close to their hearts. This is why we invest so much time and love into our shop The Tongabezi Emporium, picking each keepsake so that it tells a story of self-discovery and of Africa.
The wonderful thing about traveling in Africa specifically is that if you have done your research you can have an experience that lights up your soul and creates a better future for the countries you are visiting.
Everything in The Tongabezi Emporium is carefully selected so that guests can take home something beautiful and leave behind something great.
The Story of the Mongoose
And so we are excited to welcome new stock from Mulberry Mongoose, a small Zambian jewellery company with heart. Made up of a group of 7 courageous local ladies and 1 gentleman, they handcraft their jewellery alongside a well-trodden elephant path. Each design is inspired by the grace and ruggedness of the African bush.
Mulberry Mongoose may be small, but they are internationally recognized for the vital work they are doing. They have been featured in Marie Claire US, named one of the world’s top 10 ethical fashion brands by Departures, and been seen in British Vogue.
They are yet more celebrated for their jewellery’s special story and purpose. The materials used are selected from the local environment, ensuring a truly Zambian piece and maximising investment back into the local economy. They mix guinea fowl feathers, old coins, hand-carved wooden beads and seeds with imported semi-precious stones and pearls to create their unique look. But they are most celebrated for transforming brutal poachers’ snare wire into one of a kind pieces and, with each sale, donating a percentage of proceeds back to essential conservation efforts. They have donated over $100,000 to anti snare patrols since 2013 and their story has inspired coverage from National Geographic.
You would be forgiven for not knowing what snare poaching is. It’s relatively unknown and yet one of the biggest killers of Zambia’s wildlife. A practice where wire traps are laid in the bush with the aim of capturing bush meat to trade. The traps maim and kill indiscriminately; the wire trap slowly tightens around the limb of any unsuspecting animal that walks into it and causes unimaginable pain and eventual death. Lion, leopard, wild dog, giraffe and elephant are all victims.
Thankfully brave rangers of the DNPW, in partnership with not for profits including Conservation South Luangwa and Conservation Lower Zambezi , carry out patrols to collect in the awful wire before it harms wildlife. They also dart and rescue snared animals when they can using critical information provided by the Zambian Carnivore Programme.
By transforming this brutal snare wire into beautiful jewellery the brave Mulberry Mongoose team are not only earning a living and raising essential funds for anti-snare patrols, but they are also raising awareness of the issues of snare poaching. When our guests wear or gift this jewellery they contribute to conservation and further share this important story.
The Mongoose Family
The story of Mulberry Mongoose is not just one of conservation, it is also one of community. The banded mongoose is a wonderful animal found in the bush. They survive by being a community, one mongoose keeps watch while the others feed or babysit their young. Similarly, Mulberry Mongoose grows as a business by creating vital employment in rural Africa and by helping to protect Zambia’s wildlife.
Mulberry is a British colour and the founder, Kate Wilson, grew up in England with a Mulberry tree in her garden. This Western fruit reminds the team that despite the many challenges of running a business in the remote African bush, they must never let it affect their design aesthetic nor their service, which should rival any others across the globe. They proudly sell their designs globally and can boast being worn by Supermodel Doutzen Kroes, Ex-President Bill Clinton, and actress Antonia Thomas.
Letting a Mongoose Loose at Tongabezi
The Tongabezi Emporium is a small cave of wonders, filled with many other stories like this one, but one thing we love about this incredible company is their personal touch. In fact, the founder of Mulberry Mongoose — Kate Wilson — came in and set up each jewellry piece in the shop herself, so that when guests see the display they see exactly what Mulberry Mongoose is all about.
From the stands to the snare-wire jewellry bracelets to the adorable little short stories about life in the bush, Mulberry Mongoose is about taking a little piece of Africa with you and leaving a lot more hope behind.