With summer soon approaching, we’re glad we’ve discovered, Bantu Wax: distinctive beach apparel that’s proudly African (the products are all also made sustainably in Africa).
The design is inspired by ‘Africa’s transition from Dark Continent to Bearer of Light, tales of the mermaid goddess of oceans Mami Wata, and a passion for surfing’.
Founder, Yodit Eklund describes it as an ‘African surf brand that breaks the clichés of blonde, blue-eyed surf babes with images from Africa's own surf culture’. The concept reflects the surf culture that she grew up with. Eklund says she surfed with guys who learned how to surf before they knew how to swim.
Bantu Wax has been making waves on the international fashion circuit for over four years now, and it was only recently that the brand has come to home shores.
The answer was to open a Bantu Wax surf shop on the beaches of Dakar in Senegal (South Africa and Ghana are billed to be next). Ivory Coast architect, Issa Diabaté, created the pop-up beach store out of shipping containers.
Talking to Vogue Eklund says she ‘wanted the store to stand as both a literal and figurative conduit for the export of African youth culture, challenging a troubling past of appropriation amongst the continent by other brands’.
“For so long people have shipped raw materials from Africa so it’s kind of symbolic that we’re shipping a new kind of product.”
In speaking to the New York Times, Eklund says: “The kids are wearing the youth culture brands from elsewhere, but there is nothing that they can identify with.”
Bantu says Eklund ‘is not supposed to be one of these archaic brands like Billabong or Quicksilver, where you have only seen imagery of blonde hair and blue eyes.’
What’s cool about it she says is that it’s an African surf brand, and African means black, white, Arab, Asian, Indian.
Go to www.bantuwax.com to order your surf swag online.
For more inspiring African design stories read all about Tunde Owolabi, a Nigerian designer and photographer and how he’s weaving a modern tale with traditional Nigerian fabric, Aso Oke .
The legend of Mami Wata
Mami Wata (Mother Water) is an aquatic spirit revered across West, Central, and Southern Africa as well as in the African diaspora. She is said to be beautiful, protective, seductive, and dangerous all at the same time.
Part of a vast school of African water spirits, Mami Wata is often portrayed as a mermaid, a snake charmer, or a combination of both, and is said to honour the essential, sacred nature of water.
Her depictions have been influenced by representations of ancient African water spirits, European mermaids, Hindu gods and goddesses, and Christian and Muslim saints (the spirit can also appear as male, and is then known as a papi wata).
Mami Wata is said to bring good fortune in the form monetary gain.