Style

9 African Footwear Brands You Need In These Streets

In the run up to the holiday season, we give you nine must-have African footwear brands in our fourth edition of our 2016 gift guide.

This is our fourth gift guide in the run-up to the holidays. Keep checking for more lists of great African products here. And for more ideas check out the Okayafrica Shop.


To complete an ensemble that represents you, what you place on your feet is just as important (if not more) as the threads, and can even take your outfit to the next level.

See our 2019 Black Friday and holiday shopping guide here

We consider the footwear from the featured shoe companies as must-haves because they are one of a kind, fresh designs that are also made with substance, from the company's mission, to the shoes' comfort to your soles.

Get your flyness on in these streets with our nine favorite African footwear brands below.

1. TawiaDesigns

The 'Nindo' shoe. Photo by Aleah Clark.

We know we're not the only ones who've been itching for a pair of remixed Kente Nike's that came on the footwear scene three years ago from TawiaDesigns. The Ghanaian-American shoe brand is Chicago-based, and prides itself in providing comfortable handmade footwear ranging from sandals, boots, lace-ups and custom sneakers.

Handcrafted in Kenya, Ghana and Morocco, TawiaDesigns' variety of shoes represent Africa's rich and diverse culture, while creating and sustaining artisanal jobs within the continent.

Shop TawiaDesigns Here

2. Thando's

Photo courtesy of Thando's.

J.G. and Taffi Ayodele founded Thando's in 2014, an innovative brand that accommodates a modern woman's busy lifestyle while supporting African artists. The power couple and New York University MBAs designed foldable flats to offer women comfort and convenience in a portable, stylish product.

The Lagos-based company produces compact ballerina flats made of trendy wax print that can be super useful on the go. Thando's crowd-sources their designs, while supporting African women in the fabric trade and underserved African artists.

Shop Thando's Here

3. Nio Far by Milcos

Nnéma Indigo sneakers. Photo by Siaka Soppo Traoré.

Nio Far should be your go-to brand for sleek sneakers made out of mudcloth fabric. Founded by Milcos Badji, a young Senegalese designer, the handmade footwear fuses casual chic and Senegalese tradition in a trendy way.

Kicks from Nio Far by Milcos are made to order: contact@nio-far.com

4. Buqisi-Ruux

Photo via Buqisi-Ruux's Facebook page.

This brand seeks to celebrate powerful African women while representing diversity, vibrancy and boldness via African-inspired heels. Founded by three young female entrepreneurs, Buqisi-Ruux, meaning 'queen of the village,' wants women to feel a sense of royalty and pride whenever they rock a pair of their shoes.

Shop Buqisi-Ruux Here

5. Ohema Ohene

Photo via Ohema Ohene's website.

British born designer Abenaa Pokuaa launched Ohema Ohene in 2008 in London. Ohema and Ohene translate to "queen" and "king" in Twi. The name of the shoe brand is also in reference of Pokuaa's Ghanaian heritage.

Catering to both men and women, Ohema Ohene blends British style with West African textiles (directly sourced from Ghana) through its high quality seasonal fashion. The brand is not limited to footwear, so be sure to check out their clothes too.

Shop Ohema Ohene Here

6. SAWA

Photo via SAWA's Facebook page.

Algerian-born shoe designer Mehdi Slimani launched SAWA as an activist fashion project to produce 'Made in Africa' footwear from start to finish. You may even have caught SAWA's special collection just for J.Crew that sold out back in 2014.

The company finally settled and developed its business model in Ethiopia after initially setting up shop in Cameroon. For Slimani, SAWA shoes are for socially-conscious buyers, and seeks to benefit the continent while challenging the narrative that it needs "saving."

Shop SAWA Here

7. MONAA

Photo via MONAA's Facebook page.

The sandals that come with this luxury footwear brand will make your feet look and feel like royalty. Founded by German-born Ghanaian sisters, Nana and Afua Dabanka, MONAA pays homage to their Ashanti heritage.

The brand's sandals are made in Ghana by top-notch artisans and are constructed from the finest, globally sourced leathers; embellished with African-inspired elements.

Shop MONAA Here

8. Oliberté

From the F/W 2016 collection. Photo by Eric Ryan Anderson for Oliberté.

Oliberté launched in 2009 as a small footwear company partnering with factories and suppliers on the continent and eventually grew to establish their own factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2012. The company also became the world's first Fair Trade Certified footwear manufacturing factory a year later.

Oliberté's factory employs over 70 people, where 60 percent of employees are women. The sustainable brand also seeks to continue to support workers' rights on the continent.

Shop Oliberté Here

9. ENZI

Photo via ENZI's Facebook page.

ENZI is committed to high levels of production quality, design and materials while maintaining a commitment to social and environmental responsibility in Ethiopia.

A team of entrepreneurs—Jawad Braye, Christian Ward, Azariah Mengistu and Sam Imende—came together to develop a footwear brand that fully represented them, while changing the misconceived perception of Africa through their well-crafted men's footwear.

Shop ENZI Here

Music
Image: Nabsolute Media

Reekado Banks Recalls The Carnage of The #EndSARS Protests In Single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

The Nigerian singer pays his respects to those lost during last year's #EndSARS protests.

Nigerian singer and songwriter Reekado Banks is back with a track that is as socially important as it is a banger. It seems fitting for the singer's first solo release of the year to be a tribute to his fellow countrypeople fighting for a country that they all wish to live in. The 27-year-old Afrobeats crooner has returned with endearing track 'Ozumba Mbadiwe', honoring the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests that saw the Nigerian government authorize an onslaught of attacks on Nigerian citizens for their anti-government demonstrations.

The protests took the world by storm, additionally because the Nigerian government insists that none of the police brutality happened. In an attempt to gaslight the globe, Nigerian officials have come out to hoards to deny any and all accusations of unlawfully killing peaceful protesters. Banks mentions the absurd denials in the track, singing "October 20, 2020 something happened with the government, they think say we forget," in the second verse. Reekado's reflective lyrics blend smoothly and are supported by the upbeat, effortless Afrobeat rhythm.

In another reflective shoutout to his home, 'Ozumba Mbadiwe' is named after a popular expressway on Lagos Island that leads to the infamous Lekki Toll Gate where protesters were shot at, traumatized, and murdered. Although packed with conscious references, the P.Priime produced track is a perfect amalgamation of the talents that Reekado Banks has to offer; a wispy opening verse, a hook to kill, and an ethereal aura to mark this as a song as a hit. On "Ozumba Mbadiwe," all the elements align for Reekado's signature unsinkable sound to take flight.

Check out Reekado Bank's lyric video for his single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

Reekado Banks - Ozumba Mbadiwe (Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

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