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Pan African designs adorn leatherworker Shaka Camera’s hand tooled bags at the KPFA Crafts Fair

December 2, 2012

by Erma Murphy

Shaka Camera of Oakland has been a leather worker for over 43 years, specializing in hand stitched and hand tooled leather bags. His designs are earthy with a sophisticated touch – his bags practical yet unusual. Shaka’s pouches, purses, bags, even computer cases are embellished with beads, shells, silver and bronze acquired from his multiple trips to Africa.

Shaka Camera at work
Radiating from Burkina Faso in West Africa, where he has family, he collects beautiful objects for his finished work from the Baoule, Tuareg and Dogon people. The Tuareg of the Saharan interior of North Africa are well known for their fine silver jewelry.

Shaka may incorporate Tuareg crosses and cowry shells with other adornments in what he calls a “mixed Pan-African” esthetic. The Tuareg cross translates into a protective symbol and cowry shells, which were used for centuries as a currency in Africa, represent wealth, new growth and abundance. Carrying a bag with such adornments may have value beyond its beauty!

Shaka, whose company is Bogolani Designs, will show his work at the 42nd annual KPFA Crafts Fair on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9, at the Concourse in San Francisco. His wife of 12 years, Amatula, will share his booth with her original clothing designs made with hand-woven fibers.

A beloved holiday tradition, the KPFA Crafts Fair offers an intimate and relaxed bazaar style shopping experience with 200 artisans offering unique handcrafted gifts under one roof. Original and contemporary handcrafted items in all media will be there – from wearable art such as the bags by Shaka to art for the home. Shoppers will find leather, glass, textiles, ceramics, jewelry, gourmet food, self-care products and more.

Shaka models one of his stunning hand-tooled leather bags.
This annual event is a fundraiser for the commercial-free KPFA radio station. The Concourse Exhibition Hall is located at Eighth and Brannan. Tickets are only $10 – or $8 for seniors and people with disabilities and free for kids 17 and under. People are encouraged to take BART to the SF Civic Center and then the free shuttles to the fair. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

Shaka, whose company is Bogolani Designs, will show his work at the 42nd annual KPFA Crafts Fair on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9, at the Concourse in San Francisco.

Recently, Amatula and Shaka visited Amatula’s mother, who is 84, and other family members in New York, devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Their family was without electricity and heat for several weeks as a result of the storm. Shaka and Amatula stayed in New York for two weeks, securing generators, batteries and food to help sustain family members through a very difficult time.

They have returned in time for the holidays and are looking forward to sharing their creations at the KPFA Crafts Fair. Visit them in Booth 152. For more information, please visit or call (510) 848-6767, ext. 646.

Erma Murphy is in charge of publicity for the KPFA Crafts Fair. She can be reached at (415) 389-5072 or



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