Profile – Ivorian art queen carves out an empire

2010-05-22 14:58

The reigning Ivorian queen resident at her showroom in Bramley is a

force to be reckoned with in the business of objets d’art.

Specialising in high-end artefacts from Ivory Coast and other

countries across Africa, Reine Osso lives up to her name – Reine (which is

“queen” in French). Her parents knew what they were doing when they named her,

as the tenacious ­tigress has established a booming business in the

male-dominated world of art trading.

A mother of four, Reine was born into an art trading family. She

learned the trade at home before venturing out to Italy, the US and then South

Africa in 1994.

A keen nose for business brought her to South Africa at a time when

the market for objets d’art was still largely untapped. After a tip-off from a

fellow Senegalese trader in the US, Reine packed 600kg of stock and got onto a


For two months she knocked on doors and carted the wooden carvings

on public transport as she sold her wares on foot.

Eventually she happened upon her first client. So enamoured with

her stock was he, that he bought all of it at once – and Reine was well on her

way to establishing one of the largest showrooms of African art in Joburg.

“I love art. Yes, it is a business for me but I truly love it. I

travel to source my pieces. I also have a team of people working at home who are

very artistic. I love seeing the handcrafted piece being created. There is

nothing like it. It’s our heritage as Africans,” she says.

Excited about the impending World Cup, Reine has created a special

series of one of her best-selling products, the “colonial figures”, ­under a

commission from Fifa.

“The colonial figures are a popular item in my shop. These

colonials have a long history in my family. It was my uncle who first made them.

He was simply modelling his parents. Someone got hold of the carvings and took

them to Abidjan – now they are all over the world.”

Reine has teams at work creating colonial figures of all the

football teams playing in the World Cup. She is especially fond of the carvings

that represent the Ivorian ­national team – Les Elephants.

Reine’s footballing hero, leading striker and team leader Didier

Drogba, is already immortalised in wood. Figures of his teammates and other

leading football players from the ­African teams which have qualified for the

World Cup will follow.

The African queen has also extended her empire to include

properties in Sandton which she has transformed into guest houses. It goes

without saying that the décor is unmistakably African-inspired.

»African Queen Trading, 147 Corlett Drive,

Bramley, Johannesburg. Tel: 011-021-8138; or visit

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.