Africa has a terrible rep but notions of the continent as a backward, lawless, impoverished, diseased and corrupt place are changing thanks to people who have actually lived or traveled there for business or pleasure, and enlightened media. Add fashion to the mix and the portrait that emerges from countries like Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Morocco and South Africa, changes dramatically.
Based in Ethiopia, Sawa Shoes is an operation doing business in Africa. Their business model is both for profit and self empowerment. Raw materials for their shoes are found in Ethiopia and the shoes are manufactured there as well. The brand, however, was founded in Cameroon in November 2009. Douala, Cameroon dwellers are known as sawa, hence the name of the shoe. In Arabic, sawa means “togetherness.” In Swahili the name means “the same” or “equal,” sentiments prided by the company.
I love the map of the continent on the sole of Sawa’s shoes, which resembles PF Flyers in design, but I am uncomfortable with the image of Africa under my feet. Its been trampled on for centuries. Now it’s China’s turn.
Visit Sawa’s website for more info and to see their collection.
Oliberte Footwear is another shoe company coming out of Africa. Currently producing in Ethiopia, Liberia, and Kenya, Oliberté is most interested in supporting Africa’s middle class as it’s a defining element in the success of a country’s socio-economic development, according to Okayafrica.com.
We love the look of these shoes and may buy a few pairs. They make bags, too!