Thursday, April 28, 2011


Founded by Margaret Woermann over five years ago, in an effort to empower local craftswomen while contributing to the city's creative pulse, the Bear Project started as a core group of local Cape Town women. Several years later, it has evolved to include over 60 members from South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Central to the process of creating the bears (comprised of over 20 pieces), is a celebration of the individual. The creative process is left entirely to the embroiderers, who develop their own particular design language. The result is a beautiful collection of patterned bears embroidered with animals, people, houses, flowers and other whimsical imagery. The thread connecting all the efforts is the conviction that a skilled community can produce desirable products of enduring value. "I believe that the time for subsidized projects—'buy me because you feel sorry for me'—is over, and that a project that is self-sustaining and produces beautiful work—'buy me because I am beautiful'—is the way forward," says founder  Woermann.

A collection of these beautiful bears are available through Bundu Designs. Special orders on the white and red bears can be made up, simply email us at

Friday, April 8, 2011

Masaai Treads

Inspired by the Maasai tribesmen whose traditional footwear was the Akala, Maasai Treads is a company that makes trendy footware from rejected car tyres and inner tubes. Their sandals are currently sold from Cape Town to New York. All of their products are sourced locally in Kenya and for every purchase of a Maasai Tread product, 10% goes towards community building projects that aid in capacity development for rural and slum areas in Kenya. Dedicated to making a difference in the environment, MTS also recycles old leather jackets, for a special range of recycled leather products. Their newest project, Project Kite, has a brand new line of recycled bags, sandals and accessories that utilize the strength of the heavy duty kite material, as well as their bright colours, to create one of a kind products.

Give It Bag

Each GIVE IT BAG is individually handcrafted, to create a unique range of recycled funky bags. Every GIVE IT BAG is marked by an indiviual number which offers buyers an opportunity to report their good deeds online by their individual bag numbers. Essentially you go online and type in your good deed by referencing your bag number. The number on the bag belongs to you and your good deeds. The owners of GIVE IT BAG are self described "social entrepreneurs" striving for social, ecological and economical responsibility. It’s their way contributing and giving back, to co-create a better world and to encourage others to do the same. For every bag sold, Give It Bag donates and supports a number of charities. The bags are made from recycled material that started out as packaging for salt, sugar, rice, beans, flour etc. They’ve found their way to South Africa from every corner of the world - each print is different and volume is limited - which ensures that every bag is part of a Limited Edition. They're keeping Polypropylen out garbage dumps and reusing it and creating jobs along the way. Good one guys – cool product! We salute you for your funky innovation and courage to make a difference.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bamako Chic

"Bamako Chic: Threads of Power, Color and Culture," a one hour documentary, tells the story of women from Bamako, Mali, whose artistic creativity became a force for alleviating poverty and affirming identity in West Africa. In the 1960s, a small group of impoverished and resourceful Malian women cloth dyers reinvigorated the craft of hand-dyed cloth using a fabric called bazin (imported polished cotton), impacting their families and their communities. Thanks to micro-credit programs introduced in the mid-1980s, the production of hand-dyed bazin has flourished into a lucrative enterprise dominated by women. Today, skilled cloth dyers are revered throughout the West African region and beyond. Interweaving the personal stories of five women, "Bamako Chic" illustrates what can happen, economically and culturally, when access to credit intersects with women's creativity and ingenuity.

How To Write About Africa

Such a huge part of why this blog was started and why Bundu was founded is summed up in “How To Write about Africa”. Although not a brand new piece, it’s still so relevant. Kenyan writer, Binyavanga Wainaina wrote “How to Write about Africa” as a piss-job, a venting of steam; it was never supposed to see the light of day. What began as an email, in a fit of anger, about Granta’s “Africa” issue, has become a classic satirical essay and people now turn him and ask permission to write about Africa. The following satirical "advice" for writing about Africa represents the tone of the essay pretty well:
“Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.
Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.”

Read the rest at


Ceramic artists Barbara Jackson, Shirley Fintz, and Mathapelo Ngaka have facilitated a revival of an ancient beading tradition in South Africa. The Monkeybiz Bead Project began as a shared vision among the three artists to regenerate the indigenous art of beadwork, while creating employment opportunity for women. Over the past six years, this thriving women’s economic development initiative has established a vibrant and growing community of nearly 450 bead artists. Monkeybiz provides beads, thread, cotton and skills training for the artists, who are paid according to the merit of their work. Monkeybiz then markets the artworks in galleries and shops worldwide. Departing from the culture of mass produced curio craft, each Monkeybiz artwork is unique and is signed by the artist, ensuring that individual artists receive recognition for their work. Sold out exhibitions at Sotheby’s UK Decorative Arts Show, to galleries in New York, London, Tokyo, and Paris. Buyers like Sharon Stone, Samuel Jackson, Annie Lennox, Donna Karan, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey have already supported this successful grassroots initiative. Watch out for a range of their products on in the summer.


Oliberté believes that with the right partners, each country within Africa has the means to grow and support its people. That’s what we believe too, which is why this blog was started in the first place. So we already like Oliberte. Oliberté partners with factories, suppliers, farmers and workers to produce premium footwear in Africa. It is generally accepted that a thriving middle class is a key component to the success of any country. In Africa the middle class is increasing in size and one of Oliberté's goals is to support that growing middle class by building a world class footwear brand that can create thousands of jobs and also encourages manufacturers from other industries to work in Africa.
The rubber soles for the footwear are completely natural. They are made from natural milk from rubber trees that have been tapped in Liberia. Liberia has the largest amount of natural rubber in Africa. The shoes themselves are manufactured in Ethiopia which happens to have a growing footwear industry (remember our featured product last month Sole Rebels) and a large selection of good leather that is light and natural.
Currently Oliberté operates in Ethiopia, Liberia and Kenya with the goal of expanding to Cameroon, Congo, Uganda and Zambia in the coming years.
“We don’t want another charity, we want jobs,” can be heard across Africa and it was this sentiment that inspired and led to the creation of Oliberté shoes.
“The only real way to alleviate poverty on this beautiful continent is to build a middle class with fair paying jobs. And if we can build a successful company that also helps build Africa, then maybe we can inspire others companies to follow suit,” says Founder and President, Tal Dehtiar.
By 2015, Oliberté’s vision is to be working in over 10 African countries, helping to build lasting change “The greatest feeling is not when people tell us that they love where our shoes are made, it’s when people tell us that they love our shoes. Because the only way this whole idea works, is if we continue to bring people a fashionable line of premium quality footwear.”
The footwear is available in several stores in Canada and the USA.