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A new store brings African culture to Gadsden County

A new market and art gallery has opened on the Courthouse Square in Quincy.

Located at 23 North Madison Street, Bwembya’s Market is the concept of Charles and Kena Bwembya.

Charles, Zambian born, and a dual citizen, wanted to share his culture within the local United States community in a way that was fresh, while connecting to others through appreciation of art and aid in the sustainability of artists from Zambia, the diaspora, and the local community.

Kena grew up in Houston, Texas but her mother and family are from Gadsden and Liberty Counties.

Kena said she and her husband had been wanting to open a store.

One day they were driving around Quincy and thought it would be the perfect place to open their business.

The two live in Liberty County, and have been married for 15 years.

Kena said she also wanted to be a part of the revitalization of the square.

“We love art,” Kena said. “The mission for this store is to build a bridge between the United States and Zambia.”

It was after a visit to Zambia that Charles shared his hope to establish a market that would showcase Zambian talent in a respectable way and at the same time allow artist names to be shared globally.

Along with paintings and contemporary African art, Bwembya’s Market will offer Zambian home decor, specially curated with the hopes to spread the news of this budding African country.

Zambia is rich in history and talent, Kena said. It’s home to many artists and creators who sell their handcrafted wares in the local markets in the cities Lusuka, Kitwe and all along the byways of Zambia.

She said still 8.9 million Zambians are unemployed.

“We want to help them make a living wage,” the store owner expressed.

All of the art, jewelry and decor in the store is handmade. Although 75 percent of the items are from Zambia, some are also from other places like Kenya and Ghana.

Kena hopes that through introducing Zambian décor and art, a natural curiosity and

quest for knowledge will deepen regarding the beloved community that is the childhood home of

her spouse.

“Bwembya Market sells beautiful hand-crafted products and artwork not found anywhere in our region,” Dawn McMillan with Quincy Main Street said. “These unique items make perfect gifts or creative additions to your own decor. Purchases of many of the items directly support artisans of Zambia, mostly women.”

McMillan said having such a unique shop on the courthouse square adds to making Quincy a destination for regional visitors enhancing the economic vitality that is changing the face of the town.

The Bwembyas plan to display new art exhibits each.

Kena said they not only want to bring awareness to Zambian artists, but local black artists as well.

Kena said they also want to incorporate education, possibly offering African art and basket weaving classes in the future.

“We’re friendly over here,” Kena said with a smile. “We welcome everyone.”

You can find more information about the storefront by visiting and Bwembyas Market on Instagram and Facebook.

Erin Hill – Gadsden County News Service