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.

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

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Listen to 10 Great Songs From Johnny Clegg

Here are some of the best songs to remember South Africa's son of the soil.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that South African musician, Johnny Clegg, passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Understandably, heartfelt tributes have been pouring in ever since. Long before it was cool (or even legal) to be in close proximity to blackness and anything attached to it in South Africa, Clegg, a white man, was doing just that. That is exactly why he was given the endearing title of South Africa's "son of the soil."

Growing up during Apartheid, Clegg was taught how to speak the Zulu language by a domestic worker named Charlie Mzila. In his teenage years, his appreciation for the Zulu culture continued and he soon learnt the traditional dance styles known as isishameni and also learnt how to play the Maskandi guitar. Clegg's music was a beacon of light during a very dark time in South Africa's history and his songs about Nelson Mandela (at a time where songs were banned for merely mentioning the name of the late statesman and other key struggle activists) brought the country together.

It is irrefutable that a music giant has fallen. However, Clegg leaves behind a wealth of music featuring other great South African artists and groups such as Zakwe, Brenda Fassie, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Juluka/Suvuka, among several others. His music undeniably brought South Africans and people all around the world together.

We've picked ten of our favorite songs from the late musician's discography in honor of a life that was lived to the fullest.

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The 12 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Stonebwoy, Mahmoud Ahmed, Tiwa Savage x Zlatan, Africa Express, Juls x Mr Eazi and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Beyoncé Wore These 2 African Designers in Her Music Video for 'Spirit'

Queen Bey continues to include and give a nod to African talent in her visuals.

As we draw even closer to Disney's The Lion King opening in theaters this week, Beyoncé continues to lead the way with her new music video for "Spirit"—the first single off of the film's album she produced and curated, The Lion King: The Gift.

Shot in the Havasu Falls in Arizona's Grand Canyon, Beyoncé and her legion of beautiful dancers are one with nature and its various elements as she beckons us to be brave and hear the calling of spirit. As we noted when she announced the album, the track opens with a call and response in Swahili that translates to "Long live the king": Uishi kwa mda mrefu mfalme—uishi kwa.

Keeping our eyes peeled for African influences in the music video, it's evident that is seen in the choreography. We even spotted our extended fam with the afrobeats moves—the AVO Boys: Stephen Ojo and Caleb Bonney—as two of her dancers in the video.

Beyoncé continues to also give a nod to African talent through the looks she donned in "Spirit" styled by her mainstay, Zerina Akers.

Take a look at the two African designers she wore in the video below.

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