The traditional Palestine kefiyyehs have been difficult to find in Cape Town, amid a huge demand over the past two months during the recent Israeli military bombardment of Gaza. The black and white scarves is the most popular symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian people and is worn by activists globally. Demand for the scarves soared in Cape Town recently, as
thousands of demonstrators joined protests against the brutal violence in Gaza, which killed 2104 Palestinians.
According to Al Quds Foundation trustee Yunus Allie, new Palestine merchandise has arrived at its offices and is ready for sale. These include kefiyyehs, scarves in Palestinian colours, fezes, caps, bags and flags.
“These scarves and merchandise we bring in are the original kefiyyeh’s and merchandise hand-crafted by Palestinians in refugee camps,” said Allie.
Two weeks ago, the keffiyeh factory of Hebron also reported they had been running out of keffiyeh stock.
“The shortage came because all merchandise is hand-crafted and the manufacturers could not keep up with supply and demand. This makes it difficult for them. We work on a regular basis with them but the stock we got for the past 2 to 3 months has not been enough for the demand that we have gotten,” said Allie.
Today, the famous scarf is now largely imported from China. With the scarf’s growing popularity in the 2000s, Chinese manufacturers entered the market, driving Palestinians out of the business. There are only a few places where the scarf is manufactured in Palestine.
The symbolic garment rose to prominence when it was worn by Palestinian liberation leader Yasser Arafat during the seventies. Well known Palestinian struggle activist Leila Khaled, a female member of the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also gave the scarf popularity when she wore it as a head-scarf.
Proceeds made from the merchandise sold will go to the VOC Water Project, being run in conjunction with the Al Quds Foundation and the Muslim Judicial Council. The Gaza Water Project is a campaign to raise funds to assist in supplying Gaza’s people with clean running water. The 10-day Israeli assault on Gaza has had a heavy toll on the strip’s already fragile water infrastructure, leaving the territory’s 1.8 million residents facing an imminent water crisis.
If interested in purchasing merchandise you can go to the Al Quds office in Athlone situated directly above the post office or you can contact Yunus Allie or Kurshid Allie on 079 4945 786 or 021 638 55 94. VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)