‘Made in Africa’ is a rich and compelling composition that shows a different picture of the continent. It is an exhibition of awe-inspiring scenery, breath-taking beauty, intriguing culture and creativity, all in Ethiopia.
The pictures are simply stunning!
Shot in the Danakil desert in Northern Ethiopia, with a backdrop of smouldering clouds from the active Erta Ale volcano, this is more than just a photo shoot. It is a piece of Africa’s message to the world.
The mastermind behind this is Abai Schulze, an Ethiopian designer and entrepreneur dedicated to writing a new Afro-optimistic narrative.
Abai is part of a new wave of creative entrepreneurs who are redefining Africa. Her fierce and fearless desire to shape perceptions about Africa mirrors the mood of a rising continent. The essence of this is also embodied in her work.
ZAAF is a Premium lifestyle brand that takes pride in its African origin. All materials are sourced in Africa, designed by Africans and crafted by Africans for global consumption. For Abai, the brand is a convergence of her passion and opportunity, and for Africa, it is a refreshing narrative.
“You shouldn’t be half-hearted about blazing a personal trail or endeavour.”Abai Schulze
“My passion derives from the reality that design and creative expressions using tangible elements has always been a driver for me,” Abai explained in an interview with Lionesses of Africa.
Going by the success of her business, she is taking a lot more than premium Ethiopian leather to the world. She is painting an exciting picture of Africa and sharing it with the world.
The story is not one about helping ‘poor Africans’, a narrative that has fuelled many marketing and aid-campaigns over the years. This is different! It is a story of rich cultural heritage, creativity and craftsmanship; things that have always been part of Africa.
Local African Content, World Class Quality
Beyond these lovely images and bags, there is a deeper story.
African art is a dynamic concept that transcends form. It is expressed in drawings, paintings, sculptures, dancing, fashion, music, etc. As diverse as it seems, it commands the same energy as a means of communication, more than a source of aesthetic appreciation. Messages were sent through less literal art forms such as fashion and dance. Every piece of art is a statement.
This is the energy that makes Abai’s work to stand out as African art.
The campaign launch took place at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, a fitting venue for unveiling contemporary African art. This is what Africa looks like – Beautiful and strong! A refreshing alternative to the overcrowded and noisy world.
African Possibilities and Opportunities – ZAAF
“My driving passion and vision for many years were centred around using my education and experiences to create economic opportunities in my country of birth.”Abai
From a little shop in Addis Ababa, artisans, mostly women, put together these beautiful products that are taking the fashion world by storm. The intricate designs and patterns are influences from Ethiopia’s heritage. The quality of the leather and the neat finish show attention to detail and mastery of an age-long craft. Everything is hand-picked and hand-stitched locally by professionals and experts. It is a simple and sustainable business model that is creating wealth and developing the skills of the locals.
“By expecting less from developing countries, we actually perpetuate poverty”Abai
Africans need to do more! Our businesses can follow this local-industry based model to empower communities and help produce goods that can compete favourably against international brands.
Like Abai has done with leather in Ethiopia, young African entrepreneurs are reviving ancient traditions to solve contemporary challenges. Our leaders need to create an enabling environment for these ideas to thrive so we can see more inspiring solutions across Africa.
With 30% of the world’s remaining minerals and the youngest population in the world, Africa is primed for a future of possibilities.
If we can challenge ourselves to channel our creativity, we will unearth exciting solutions and tell more compelling stories to shape global perceptions about the continent. Until then, let us celebrate these stunning pictures that remind us that wonders are still made in Africa.
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