Friday, July 15, 2011


Mission: To introduce the world to African beach culture.
How: By creating a hot line of beach and resort wear, accessories, and skincare products using indigenous prints, labor, and materials. All 100% made in Africa.
Wild animals? “Heart of darkness”? How about fashionable continent, with great surf! Bantu which means “gateway” in Wolof (the native language of Senegal). beyond the depressing images that captivate the media, Africa is blessed by a vibrant beach culture from Dakar to Zanzibar, and from Cape Town to Casablanca – 26 coastal nations and countless cities. 

Each colorful Bantu swimsuit in this year’s collection is entirely manufactured in Ethiopia, but in the future, Bantu want to take its show on the road and produce collections and accessories in other African nations. Bantu’s swimsuit patterns are taken from the centuries-old West African textile industry that originated with the wax cloth in cities such as Dakar, Senegal, Abidjan, and Cote d’Ivoire. The juxtaposition of colors and patterns reflects the weaver’s identity, character, and beliefs.

Founded by designer Yodit Eklund the line started with the idea that jobs, not a percentage of proceeds, make for sustainable improvements and better lives. Each season, Bantu improves its production — African manufacturing is one of Eklund’s passions — and broadens its offerings. (She has just introduced surfboards, made in South Africa.) But its focus remains steadfastly on giving back to the African community, in the form of jobs, as well as through a Bantu ambassador program that pairs underprivileged kids with surf instructors.

So whether you’re a surfer or a fashionista, peer into this kaleidoscope of color and immerse yourself in African beach culture and contribute to the change in Africa.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Fashion. love, Africa designs and purchases hand knitted bags constructed from post consumer plastic bags gathered and woven by female residents living in the garbage slum of Nakuru, Kenya. Each bag is purchased directly from the woman who constructed it, allowing her a consistent source of income. Located right outside Nakuru, Kenya is the Gioto Garbage Slum, home to approximately 140 families and 300 children. After witnessing firsthand the dismal conditions of the Giota Garbage Slum, designer Ryan Clements decided to produce a line of bags that would provide a lifeline for its residents. Directly inspired by the bags the slum women were already producing themselves, Clements began designing and purchasing the handwoven satchels from the women, supporting their craft as well as their community via an international NGO established in Kenya. Each of the eight designs is named after a woman who made it—a simple yet effective way of connecting your purchase to the people it benefits the most.
After gathering, cleaning, and disinfecting the bags, the artisans hand-weave them into vibrant totes with designs such as stripes, “tweed,” or a faux zebra print. Besides offering a source of income, $10 from every $50 bag sold goes back to the slum by way of projects that help with medical aid, relocation, and child sponsorship. Great bags, great project.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Greenpop is an exciting new organisations launched by three friends Lauren O’Donnell, Jeremy Hewitt and Misha Teasdale, in Cape Town, South Africa. Greenpop, which started as an Arbour Month campaign to plant 1000 trees in September, has since adapted into an inspiring full-time business, with the name lending itself to making ‘greening’ part of popular culture. Greenpop’s website – – appeals to individual donors to purchase Cape indigenous trees for just R75 ($10), which enables tree planting in township schools where insufficient budgets only cover basic infrastructure. Fruit trees, which cost R100 ($14), will get planted on an incentivised basis, ensuring that schools prove they are capable of maintaining their trees. Greenpop is also appealing to bigger companies to assist them in becoming more financially sustainable. Cool project!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Wide Open Walls was founded by Lawrence Williams, one of the owners of Makasutu, a conservation project home to a set of magnificent river lodges at Mandina in The Gambia, West Africa. A keen artist, Williams has been working with local artists on a creative project called Bushdwellers. The basic idea was to turn villages in the area (falling under the Ballabu Conservation Project) into a living art project. This year saw the first time collaboration between Wide Open Walls and Write on Africa, a South African based organization started by Ricky Lee Gordon (a.k.a Freddy Sam). “Write On Africa” is a community art project based in Cape Town South Africa. It’s main focus being to encourage inspiration and urban rejuvenation through special events, initiatives and art in public space to “inspire ourselves to inspire others to inspire change”.

Wide Open Walls invited street artists from Bushdwellers (The Gambia), ROA (Belgium), Know Hope (Israel), Remed (Madrid), TIKA (Switzerland), Freddy Sam (SA), Selah (SA), and Best Ever (UK), the artist were selected because of their attitude in making and sharing art. One of the main aims of the project was to create connections between street artists and the community through mural painting, art workshops and other interventions. Children in the different villages were also given art supplies with which to experiments, and a dilapidated classroom was refurbished by Freddy Sam and the community, turning it into a colourful space to be used as classrooms.
South African photographer, Jonx Pillemer and filmmaker Rowan Pybus captured the two-week long project on film, engaging street artists and community members to reflect on this collaborative creative process.
In the long terms this project hopes to raise funds for the village through the publication of a book with photographs of the artworks. They also aim to create an exhibition/fundraiser and sell photographs of the artwork to raise funds which will be distributed through the local NGO, the Ballabu Conservation Project that has been set up by James English of Makasutu cultural forest in conjunction with all 14 chiefs of Ballabu. The project also aims to sustain an ethos of responsible tourism, it has been suggested that tourists who want to visit the murals will have to make a donation to the trust and will be expected to immerse themselves in the villages they visit through forms of cross cultural exchange to ensure that a sense of a “drive by human zoo” is not created.
The artwork is awesome and public art needs to exist more in open spaces in Africa, because art galleries and even museums just don’t provide accessibility to wider audiences to care and appreciate art. It should be all around us inspiring communities in areas where art is unlikely to be seen.