Colourful shop to close its doors

Last updated 05:00 29/06/2013

POETIC LICENCE: The closure of his store opens a new chapter for Lewis Scott.

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For 17 years Kwanzaa has served as the "cornerstone of Wellington's African community".

But the Manners St shop, which sells African artefacts, fabrics and jewellery, is closing its doors on Monday.

Owner Lewis Scott says the decision to close was not an easy one.

"Over the years Kwanzaa has become more than just a retail outlet, it's become an important place for the African community. To see that go, well it's sad."

Scott says his desire to pursue a fulltime career in poetry is the main reason for the closure.

"Now I'm going to become a fulltime poet and probably starve to death because everyone knows poets don't make a lot of money."

He says it has been difficult to keep the small shop running in the current economic climate.

"It's a difficult time for small businesses to make ends meet, especially during the past few years," he says. "It's been hard to keep the shop alive but I'm glad it's stayed open for so long."

Kwanzaa has become an important part of Wellington and has added to the cultural diversity the city is known for, he says.

"Wellington really is a collage of flavours and colours, and Kwanzaa has become an element of that. It's so different, colourful and spiritual."

Since it opened in 1996, Kwanzaa has hosted events including poetry readings and receptions for African and African-American ambassadors visiting Wellington.

The shop has also been a place that African migrants can identify with and relate to, Scott says.

"It has become a place for many African migrants to come as they work to settle and find new lives in a city far away from anything they know."

He says he is happy with how people have embraced the store.

"We've done some beautiful stuff here and I think that whatever sadness I feel, I know that this shop has made a difference to the African community and has added to the vibrancy of Wellington.

"We have added a bit of African flavour to Wellington as a city. But everything has its season, and unfortunately Kwanzaa's season is now over."


Kwanzaa – The Afrikan Shop at 119 Manners St, closes on Monday. It is open today from 10am till 5pm and will be open tomorrow from 11am till 5pm.

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- The Dominion Post


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