One of the must have's from Africa is a KANGA. It's basically a rectangular piece of colorful cloth worn by both men and women that covers the head as well as the body. It's said to have originated along the coast of East Africa.
Traditionally, each kanga has a Swahili phrase written on it, and make fantastic gifts! Husbands give it to their wives, children to their mothers........and the phrases are typically very philosophical about life, religion, family. Although we were warned to be sure we have the phrase "translated" before purchasing a kanga, in the even some "jokester" tries to pull a fast one on the tourists and prints some naughty phrases on your cloth.
I purchased a lovely set of kangas from this vendor in Moshi. I thought I was getting a STEAL when I purchased it for 8,000 shillings (about $8 USD) ...... but a few minutes later this woman who sold it to me was being profusely sworn to (in Swahili) by my local friend who damned her for ripping me off !! Always remember: Bargain, bargain, bargain!!
Close to Moshi is the huge market where, once a week, everything from second-hand clothing, to hardware, to food and local crafts are sold. People come from all over the region to do their shopping, and it is definitelhy worthwhile to peruse the merchandise there.
What to buy: Fabrics and artwork are the best buys at these busy markets. It's best to focus on one particular item, because the robust colors and lively atmosphere can have a dizzying effect on you!!
What to pay: We were told time and time again by the local Tanzanians to BARGAIN! Never pay the asking price at first offer.
Personally, I am a HORRIBLE haggler........especially when shopping prices start out so cheap in the first place!
Regardless, I felt like I was getting a bargain everytime I made a purchase.......
Africulture House Curios is probably the best craft shop we've seen in Tanzania. It has a good selection of crafts at very reasonable prices. Moreover we could look at everything in the shop without being harassed by the staff and all the articles had a price tag (and the prices were really interesting, we couldn't find anythng cheaper in the following shops we visited)
What to buy: wood carved animals are especialy wonderful (giraffes, elephants, hippos, etc)