What Sepp Blatter and I understand about FIFA

When the corruption scandal broke, I was initially shocked that the derited States was prosecuting and the first thoughts on mind were akin to Imperialism (please read through before you judge).

I didn’t really pay much attention except to count how many times Loretta Lynch and her henchmen repeated “soccer, soccer…” at some point, it sounded like “sucker.” It was okay for me, but I could imagine watching in Nigeria and other parts of the world and wanting to tell them “no, it’s football”!

Anyway, when the facts came out, I realized that the U.S. had jurisdiction etc. And, who better to probe corruption – especially in a body like FIFA – than the U.S.? In spite of her “deflategate,” multiple steroidal Olympians, and Mayweatherisms, the U.S. is still better than most parts of the world corruption-wise. It’s like a whirlwind compared to a tornado. So I was glad that the U.S. was prosecuting, but my thoughts still lingered.

Now it is a fact that all the countries that have won the World Cup since inception have hosted it before (I realized this in the last decade when deliberations were going on about an African World Cup).

Of course, these two may not be related but I know that when you get to those heights, where preparation and talent are only basic requirements, several other factors come into play – confidence, psyche, fan clubs, referee united, winning mentality, limbs of God etc. And if you know what I know, you’ll understand that any advantage is an advantage.

So was I expectant and happy when South Africa got the nod? Of course! And to prove my point, it would have been the best outing of any African country to date except for the intervention of the Mike Tyson of football. There are several other examples to support my hypothesis (e.g. Japan/South Korea – 2002, etc.).

Obama’s $400,000 Mistake?, The Island of African Millionaires, Powerful DNA test results

Greetings ZNews Readers,

Each week is a bit of an emotional journey for me as I curate this email. I balance sharing success stories and information with noting many difficult truths and unpleasant events that so often impact our lives and our communities.

This week was particularly challenging due to the news about Jordan Edwards, the latest unarmed Black male fatally shot by police officers in the Untied States.

Jordan was 15 years old. And as we’ve also come to expect, the original account of the officers involved was retracted after video footage contradicted the initial statements.

I’m not sure how many more of these stories I can take.

Some good news; Singer and producer Ne-Yo has invested $2.3 million to help people from unrepresented groups become full-stack engineers. I love news like this because it highlights people giving back to invest in their communities.

Sure, many monetarily successful Black folks “give back” in photo opportunistic ways by reading to kids or by giving out iPads or computers, but how many use their resources to invest in people? If anyone has stats or info on this, please share.

Meanwhile, anyone up to join me and escape to the island of African millionaires? Maybe some of their wealth can rub off on us. I’ll even settle for new iPad. I’m a kid at heart.

Keep those comments and questions coming. Share your stories, comments, and suggestions with us at



Confessions of a wealthy immigrant: “model minority” is a myth: The “model minority” success story is used as a wedge to deny systemic economic and racial injustice, reinforcing myths of criminality in the “bad” undocumented immigrants and “laziness” in immigrants and black people. Because if families like mine could “succeed,” what’s holding back other immigrants and families of color?

Meet the Playwright Putting the Spotlight on African Immigrants: This month, New York Theatre Workshop debuts two new plays by Mfoniso Udofia, Both works are part of the playwright’s epic, nine-part Ufot Cycle, which chronicles the life—the triumphs and losses—of a Nigerian immigrant woman living in America. For the playwright, these plays are an important step in expanding our knowledge of African narratives.

The Suicide of an Uber engineer. Widow blames job stress: Joseph Thomas thought he had it made when he landed a $170,000 job as a software engineer at Uber last year. He and his wife, Zecole, had just bought and moved into a home with their two young sons. But his time at Uber turned into a personal tragedy, one that will compel the ride-hailing company to answer questions before a judge about its aggressive work culture.

Is China the World’s New Colonial Power?: The rising superpower has built up enormous holdings in poor, resource-rich African countries —but its business partners there aren’t always thrilled. China’s relationship with Africa goes back to the 1960s. Today, if you take the red-eye flight from Shanghai to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, chances are you’ll be seated among Chinese workers heading to a construction site in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, a cotton-processing plant in Mozambique, a telecom project in Nigeria.

DNA provides new insights: My father was born and raised in Nigeria, my mother is African-American and knows very little about her ancestry. Family members told stories about being Native American, but could never identify a tribe. My results showed that my mother is mainly African, but also Irish. I turned out to have more ancestry in Benin than Nigeria.

My only access to Ghana was the food: The Brixton-based chef Zoe Adjonyoh rediscovered her heritage through cooking. The daughter of a Ghanaian father and Irish mother, Adjonyoh is a woman anchored in two worlds. Both sides of her family have food at the heart of their culture, and that passion for feeding comes through.

NFL draft profiles are full of language differences that reveal racial stereotypes: A white quarterback prospect is more likely to be discussed in terms of intangible internal qualities. He is smart and displays intelligence. He is a leader. In contrast, a minority quarterback prospect is more likely to be discussed in terms of physical characteristics, to be judged erratic and unpredictable, and to have his successes and failures ascribed to outside forces. We learn about his hands, his weight, his frame, his body. He throws dangerous passes.

How Nigeria rejection led to Anthony Joshua’s rise to stardom: Joshua makes no secret of his Nigerian heritage. If anything, he embraces it. His middle name, Femi (short for Oluwafemi), is as Nigerian as Nigerian is. On numerous occasions, he has not been shy to speak about his Nigerian roots. It was that connection that drove him to try and represent Nigeria at the 2008 Olympic Games, only to be turned down by the country’s boxing coaches.

A counter-terrorism officer put a monkey toy on a black colleague’s desk, and was cleared by a disciplinary panel. The woman who brought the complaint said he used the toy to signal whose turn it was to make tea and coffee. Det Sgt Andrew Mottau was cleared of gross misconduct. He will now receive management advice – the lowest form of disciplinary action.


Heineken sparks beer war with $160 million brewery in Ivory Coast

Katy Perry’s black hair/Obama joke bombed

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Diamond admits his company has a Black talent problem—and the finance industry should listen

A New Art Museum Stands on a Former Plantation in the Congo

Nigerians would rather have a .com web address than .ng—and not just because it’s cheaper

Nigeria’s Cars45 closes $5M round to digitize Africa’s used autos markets

Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders: ‘America isn’t made for the black man’



The year two Liberian refugees founded SheaMoisture, the $700 milllion company now accused of erasing their most loyal customers, Black women.


The number of Haitian Immigrants at risk of deportation due to the recommendation of U.S.Civil and Immigration Services director to end Haiti’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program.


The fee former U.S. President Barack Obama is collecting to speak at a health care conference organized by the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald, which many believe undermines everything he believes in.



BongoHive Launch Program: Based in Zambia, a handful of startups with great promise will be taken through a customised series of interventions co-created by you and our Startup Incubation Lead. Startups will share co-working space with other Launch startups, be matched with an industry leading mentor relevant to their startup, access to legal advice and regularly work with our in-house Accounting and Finance Lead.

Start’Act Business Accelerator: The first Tunisian Startup Accelerator launched by Carthage Business Angels and sponsored by the French development agency (AFD) and the ministry of Finance. This accelerator is for Tunisian entrepreneurs who accelerate their business into sustainable and successful ones. Start’Act is an access to Market accelerator, it offers: Financing, Network, technical assistance, Trainings and exposure.

The Nigerian J.K. Rowling; Obama Returns; Shea Butter Gets Dry

Greetings ZReaders,

It has not been an easy few days for Black women. Rachel Dozeal has reemerged with an African name, Shea moisture tries an ad that “tries it,” and Jessie Williams leaves his pretty brown wife, allegedly for a non-Black woman. My summary of how sistahs in my circle reacted:

I’ve been moved by the number of you who have expressed interest in contributing to ZNews. I’ve spent a lot of time last week reading samples and considering some great pitches. We’re still accepting work, so if you or anyone you know is a talented written or visual storyteller, so just has something eloquent to say, kindly reach out.

Keep those comments and questions coming. Share your stories, comments, and suggestions with us at




Shea Moisture reaches out to white women in hair products ad. Black women protest: For years, women of color embraced Shea Moisture for hair products catering to naturally coily and curly hair. But Shea Moisture moved to broaden its reach to include women of all backgrounds and hair types. Marketing that expanded reach while appealing to its loyal customers, it turns out, can get a bit complicated.

They’re Calling this 23-Year-Old Novelist the Next J.K. Rowling: Nigerian-American author Tomi Adeyemi got a seven-figure publishing deal with Macmillian and a massive deal with Fox Studios for her fantasy novel about a young girl’s battle with a prince over bringing magic back to West Africa.

I Moved Abroad With Over 200K In Debt & Returned Home Debt Free:  Struggling is not living. Eat, sleep, work, pay bills became my routine. And I was barely getting by or scratching the surface of my debt, so I decided to do something different.

Portraits show Iran’s hidden minority of Afro-Iranians: German-Iranian photographer Mahdi Ehsaei has spent the last three years documenting a lesser known community in his home country: Iranians of African heritage.

Fortune 500 companies are still hesitant about settling in Africa: Investor interest in Africa may have been piqued since the start of the 21st century, but many of the world’s Fortune 500 still seem reluctant to actually move to the continent.

All Your Favourite Cartoon Characters Are Black: Bugs Bunny, black. Scrappy Doo, black. Elmo, definitely black. On the surface it’s an extremely funny and silly thing to think about— there’s also a layer of sadness that goes beyond silliness.

To Be Black, Female and Fed Up With the Mainstream: Linda La Rue’s exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum questions what women’s liberation, primarily a white, middle-class movement, have to offer African-American women.

Why is Media Matters stealing credit for the work of Black organizers? Appropriation: It’s not just limited to hairstyles and music. It’s also present in social justice work, specifically the takedown of Glen Beck and Bill O’Reilly.


This Powerful Photo Series Is Showing What It Is Like To Be Black And Muslim In The US

King Mswati III of Swaziland is Africa’s last absolute monarch wants to make the country the first in Africa to outlaw divorce

Kobe Bryant Recalls Meeting Beyonce, Cites Michael Jackson as His Biggest Inspiration at Tribeca Film Festival

African governments have a new way of controlling the media—starve them of ad revenue

Jeremy Lin Reveals a Sad Truth About Asian Men That’s Rarely Talked About




The number of active tech hubs in 93 cities in 42 countries of Africa.


The number of time Barack OPbama mentioned Trump in his first public appearance since he left office.


Atlantic Fellowship for Health Equity in South Africa: Tekano is seeking applications for its fellowship programme to develop progressive leadership to tackle the deep social and economic inequities that characterise South Africa and impact on the health of our people.

The Monarq Incubator: Diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams. For this program, we seek to source and invest in exceptional companies that have at least one woman in the leadership team, holding significant influence and equity. The ideal candidate is working full time on their company and the applicant is a high-level woman involved in the fundraising effort.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is seeking applications for its Indigenous Fellowship Programme 2018. The programme contributes to build the capacity and expertise of indigenous representatives on the UN system and mechanisms dealing with human rights in general and indigenous issues in particular, so they are in a better position to protect and promote the rights of their communities at the international level.

Art meets wealth in one Nigerian-American’s vision for a community

Shimite Obialo founder and CEO of Anoko

“You must kill it,” her parents would tell her. Killing it signifies putting your best foot forward, having the “doer mentality,” as some may call it.

Her father and mother left Nigeria for America, with the vision in their eyes, to provide for their kin a much more prosperous life than they had. They made the hard choice to uproot from their native land, which is filled with their families and friends.

They arrived in America and with them, their culture. Nigerian culture is built on hard work, dedication, a strong resolve, all of which cannot fully be utilized without education rooted at its core. So when they had children, they instilled all those core values deep within their minds.


Shimite Obialo took that “kill it” mentality from her hardworking mother and father. She’s a lawyer who works sometimes 80-hour weeks, sings at events with a beautiful voice that captivates souls, and works tirelessly on as  founder and CEO of Anoko, her social networking business.

Anoko is a new members only art social club based in New York, that connects professionals with arts, culture and culinary experiences. Through a diverse set of partnerships, with arts institutions, galleries, performance venues and more, Anoko provides its members with discounts and VIP access. The group was selected to curate the VIP section of the 2017 VOLTA Art Fair happening in March.

The meaning of the word “Anoko” is wealth, in the Nigerian language, Igala.

On Saturday night, I attended the private launch party in Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn. Once there, I was blown away by the creative ingenuity and uniqueness that presented itself in the portraits hanging from the wall. These were Afroprofessionals expressing their creativity outside of the confines of their daily, standardized lives.

Attendees viewing artwork at Anoko's lunch event in Brooklyn, NY
Attendees viewing artwork at Anoko’s launch event in Brooklyn, NY

After having a drink or two (probably more) and waiting for the event to commence, I parlayed with some of the creative professionals about the event, and why they were drawn to attend. Most knew Shimite on a personal level; others were guests of her guests. They all genuinely believed in the mission of sharing their creative artistry with the world–that true art is communal. The professional creatives wanted to be apart of the space, the feeling of transparency that art provides to the soul.

Shimite walked out from the back room–commanding everyone’s attention. She is a striking woman, tall and elegant, with laid back eyes and a beautiful smile. She walked around the room, greeting her guests, before proceeding to kick off the event. Her demeanor exudes a quiet, yet commanding presence.

After some performances by fellow creatives, Shimite, an artist herself, captivated every person’s’ soul with the cadence of her voice, rendering them speechless.

Jeremiah Ojo, art consultant at Anoko speaks with attendee.
Jeremiah Ojo, art consultant at Anoko speaks with attendee.

“There is a multiplicity in us, we don’t have to be just one thing. I can be everything I want to be; we can be anything we want to be. It’s with that vision in mind that led me to starting Anoko,” Shimite said.

Shimite is also building a strong team to help build this community. She brought on Jeremiah Ojo as an art consultant at Anoko. He brings a dynamic experience traveling globally to curate and project manage a variety of exhibitions, working with artists studios, galleries and museums.

He shares, “I decided to work with Anoko because of the mission set forth to educate our generation about the importance of pursing and attaining cultural wealth. Anoko is the first company I have seen to successfully blend the social & cultural capital of the arts and cultural sectors, with immersive educational experiences, built around people and community, not institution.”

Shimite and Jeremiah have built real careers doing creative work. As Afroprofessionals, we don’t have to just be pragmatic. We can be raw and unfiltered in our capacity to express ourselves; we need to share with the rest of the world a bit of who we are through mediums such as photographs, paintings, writings, singing, and all other creative outlets. It shows the world us, the way we would like to be defined: multifaceted individuals with beaucoup identities.

There’s a voice inside of us that can only be emulated through the art that we create.


Kamar Foster is a contributor who covers events and writes the stories for ZNews Africa. He narrates the cultural stories of the African diaspora as he experiences them locally and globally. Hit him up on twitter @KamarFoster and on instagram @definitionsarerealyall

For editorial inquires contact:

Michelle Obama’s Natural Hair; Tea with Mugabe; Uganda’s “Uber for Motorcycles”

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Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Greetings Everyone,

If the above sentence is true, then we at ZNews have been “praised and worshiped” quite emphatically over the the past few weeks. Our friends at top global publications and similarly focused African media companies have complimented us wildly in their recent newsletter “additions.”

It’s all love. We influence each other. If only everyone did as good a job copying Ghanian jollof, the world would be a better place.

If you’re a proponent of African innovation, check out the 2017 MIT Sloan Africa Innovate Conference, coming up this weekend.

Speakers include:

  • Her Excellency, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, GCSK, CSK, PhD, Dsc
    President of Mauritius
  • Mr. Ola Oresanya, Managing Director, Globetech Remedial
  • Zim Ugochukwu CEO, Travel Noire.

A special hello to all of the new subscribers joining us from the Columbia University African Economic Forum this past weekend.

Keep those comments and questions coming. Share your stories, comments, and suggestions with us at




How a Nigerian software engineer is feeding the poor with an app: The app connects supermarkets to NGOs and low-income earners, allowing them to buy food that’s about to expire at a discount.

Michelle Obama Is Rocking Her Natural Hair And The Internet Can’t Even: It’s not confirmed exactly where the former first lady is or when the photo was taken, but that didn’t stop Twitter from having a damn fit.

Wildly Talented Nigerian Artist Made This Drawing Without Any Training Whatsoever: Nigerian artist Arinze Stanley has been drawing for as long as he can remember, without formal training.

A new documentary shows how wrong China is about its African immigrants: Africans in China are often discussed in terms of blatant racism or fears that African migrants are criminals or bring many security risks. A recently released documentary, Guangzhou Dream Factory, hopes to broaden the perception.


A. Affairs

B. Business

C. Culture

D. Development

E. Entertainment 



The number of plaintiffs involved in a billion-dollar lawsuit against Johns Hopkins University over its alleged role in the deliberate infection of hundreds of vulnerable Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases.


How many days English-Speaking Cameroon has not had any internet.


The number of hours of work the average Black American worker performed 2015.


“Shark Tank” Harlem Casting Call: Values Partnerships is working with Shark Tank to support entrepreneurship and bring more diverse ideas and voices to the show. On a first come, first serve basis, companies may be selected to pitch their businesses to the casting team from ABC’s Shark Tank.

Ecobank is challenging Africa’s new generation of entrepreneurs to find lasting solutions to the continent’s most pressing banking issues. Submit entries in one or more of our key areas of interest for your Chance to win up to $500,000 funding.

Sierra Leone Opportunities for Business Action’s Innovation Lab (SOBA iLab) incubates and accelerates high-risk, high-potential enterprises that advance change at scale. Implemented by Adam Smith International and funded by the UK Government, SOBA is the largest market systems development programme in Sierra Leone. Apply by April 26, 2017 to join the Business Model Validation Lab.

Black Muslim Trump Supporters; How to Con Black Law Students; The Magic of Black Hair

Our weekly digest of curated news and stories can be delivered to your inbox by signing up for ZNewsletter.


Alpha and I have been honored to be invited to speak at various talks and conferences including those at Wharton and Harvard Business School. It’s a special thing for me to be a speaker for my alma mater at this year’s Columbia University Africa Economic Forum. It’s this Saturday, April 1. Get your tickets and come say hello.

Even at our best, it’s probably not going to be as interesting as the BWIJ Conference–a 1,500 member group of black women married to Japanese men holding their first major gathering. I imagine those sistahs have been mesmerizing their beaus through the magic of their Black hair.

What events and gatherings are you checking out? What about African Narratives would you like me to touch on at the conference?

Keep those comments and questions coming. Share your stories, comments, and suggestions with us at




I Was Supposed To Have Good Hair: “I was the only black girl in my grade, and at sleepovers my white friends and I would do each other’s hair and I would die inside of embarrassment as their flimsy barrettes burst under the strain of my frizz and as the brushes with ball ends would get hopelessly entangled in my coils. I hated my hair so much.” (The Establishment)

Exploring Ethiopia’s Past and Future Through Body Painting: The prevalence of decorative body painting in her images — stark whites, vibrant reds, azure blues, monochromes sometimes delicately dotted with black — are rooted in Ethiopian tradition and custom. Against a backdrop of globalization, this waning tradition is revived and celebrated as a form of a contemporary self-expression. (The NY Times)

How Diversity Branding Hurts Diversity: The mere presence of diversity policies, diversity training, and diversity awards cause white people to be less likely to believe racial discrimination exists and cause men to be less likely to believe gender discrimination exists, despite other data and evidence. (Medium)

The Emergence Of The White Troll Behind A Black Face: Black Twitter has noticed an increase in the number of white trolls creating fake Twitter accounts in order to take “revenge on Twitter” and to “create a state of chaos on twitter, among the black twitter population, by sowing distrust and suspicion, causing blacks to panic.” (NPR Code Switch)



A. Affairs

Meet the black students and Muslim teenagers backing Trump (Metro)

Smartphones are making Kenya’s gambling problem even worse (Quartz)

Bootstrap myth exposed: White inheritance key driver in racial wealth gap (Channel 3000)

Why Black Families Struggle to Build Wealth (The Atlantic)

B. Business

This Ghanaian Woman Just Introduced the Sponge, “Sapor” to Americans and They Are Going Crazy Over It  (OMG Voice)

Diddy’s Revolt TV Is Being Sued for Reverse Discrimination for Alleged ‘Animosity Towards Caucasians’ (Vulture)

Fading oil industry brings economic uncertainty in Gabon (Reuters)

U.S. airlines are cutting seats and flights to Cuba, amid a glut in capacity (


C. Culture

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on transgender row: ‘I have nothing to apologise for’ for’ (The Guardian)

This Virtual Reality Experience Shows Black Women As The Pioneers of Brain Modulation Technology Through Hair Care (Quirktastic)

Who are the Brazilian black and indigenous women in technology? (Olabi Makerspace)

Colin Kaepernick Is To The NFL What Black People Are To America (Huffington Post)


D. Development

How to Con Black Law Students: A Case Study (The NY Times)

Science-Loving Teens From Ghana And D.C. Geek Out Together (NPR)

London’s black male graduates less likely to get jobs (BBC News)

Google Hopes To Hire More Black Engineers By Bringing Students To Silicon Valley (NPR)


E. Entertainment

Historical dramas ‘limit UK black actors (BBC News)

Racism entrenched in India’s pop culture, with help from Bollywood (Hindustan Times)

Amazon Picks up ‘Moonlight’s’ Barry Jenkins’ ‘Underground Railroad’ Series- Adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Novel (Shadow and Act)


$4 million – $5 million

The amount Halima Aliko Dangote hopes to raise as the new board president of the Africa Center, a Harlem institution devoted to African art and policy (NY Times).

$75 billion

What Mckinsey estimates Africans could be spending online by 2025 (CNN).


The Red Bull Amaphiko Academy is a launchpad for grassroots social entrepreneurs who are making a positive difference in their community. Over the course of 10 days, participants receive inspiration and mentorship, as well as the practical skills and tools needed to take their projects to the next level. Started in 2014, the Academy has been hosted in South Africa and Brazil; this year it will touch down in the US for the very first time, taking place August 11-20 in Baltimore, Maryland. Applications close on April 30, 2017.

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) Scholarships reward talented students and STEM organization members with the opportunity to attend this year’s conference. Developers selected for a scholarship will receive a WWDC 2017 ticket and lodging free of charge. WWDC 2017 takes place June 5-9 in San Jose, California.

The Fashion Designers to Watch

Aprelle Duany with her collection of bags in New York. Photo by Eric Acquaye.

By Eric Acquaye

It’s no secret that there is a new wave of African designers that are making a major splash in the world of fashion. We already know and love many clothing designers that are breaking the mold on the Continent, but there’s also a bevy of new accessory designers that we have our eye on to be the next big thing in fashion.

We recently stopped by the Nolcha lounge during New York Fashion week in New York City to shed light on some of these talents. We discovered some of the hippest accessory designers in the business today. These four designers are doing everything from handbags, to shoes, to jewelry design–are are doing it big and very right. Each one with a different style and story, they are without a doubt the ones to watch.

Aprelle Duany

Aprelle Duany stands with her collection in New York. Photo by Eric Acquaye.
Aprelle Duany stands with her collection in New York. Photo by Eric Acquaye.

The first designer that caught our attention was Aprelle Duany. Aprelle is a New York City raised, Kenya based, handbag designer, and her brand boasts the best of both worlds. She says that the calling to create her brand stemmed from her being unsatisfied while working her 9 to 5 job in New York City. Cautious, but craving change, she saved her money, quit her job and enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Just as she was ready to take on the big city, she decided instead to relocate to South Sudan so that her husband could also live his dream of helping his home country.

After doing well to establish two successful children’s organizations there, they suddenly found themselves in the middle of a war. Aprelle says it was then that she prayed for protection. She promised God and herself that if her and her family were to make it out alive, she would no longer take her gifts for granted and make the most out of life. In 2014, she got the chance to make good on that promise and launched her brand, APRELLEDUANY. Since then she has been making beautiful custom leather handbags for the modern woman. Handbags we adore! You can find them and more on Aprelle at

Sammy Abdella

Sammy Abdella in New York. Photo by Eric Acquaye.
Sammy Abdella in New York. Photo by Eric Acquaye.

The next designer we met was Sammy Abdella. Hailing from Ethiopia, Sammy and his company strive to strengthen the local communities there. He spoke to us about how passionate he was about preserving the country’s long history of weaving while trying to infuse it with new inspiration and styles. He hires local weavers, embroiderers, cotton spinners and dyers to ensure that the local talent is utilized and employed. His company’s mission has been to empower and employ marginalized groups while ensuring the production of quality products. One of which we admire very much.

Having started the company in 2007, Sammy, handmade in Ethiopia, has grown tremendously. They have now expanded to making a large range of scarves, bags, throws, pillow covers, runners and even curtains. If you are the kind of consumer that appreciates local handcrafted goods, then Sammy is the brand for you. You can find Sammy, handmade in Ethiopia, in many stores around the world, including Africa, Asia, Europe, The UK and The USA. Even high end department stores like Barney’s have picked up the brand and Sammy hopes that this is just the beginning. He plans to expand the brand with more product ranges and added artisan efforts. You can find out more about Sammy, hand made in Ethiopia, at

Ami Shah

Ami Shah in New York. Photo by Eric Acquaye.
Ami Shah in New York. Photo by Eric Acquaye.

Words like chic and luxurious should be no stranger to our third designer, because that’s exactly what her brand exemplifies. Ami Shah is a Kenyan based jewelry designer that is setting a standard for the best in her field. Her sleek, contoured designs are undeniably chic, and they take after their designer! This comes as no surprise seeing as though Ami holds a degree in jewelry and silversmithing from the Burmingham School of Art and Design in the UK. She was also the recipient of the Goldsmith’s award for best design in 2001. Then after taking a 14-year detour to work in advertising, she decided to return to her passion of jewelry making, and that’s when IAMI was born.

Ami describes her collections as pieces for the design conscious woman or man that have an adventurous and eclectic sense of style. Since the brands conception, IAMI has won several other awards, been featured in two books and has been exhibited in multiple venues around the world. The future of IAMI may include new design products including lighting, home accessories and furniture. All with the continued theme of sourcing and producing locally in Kenya as her collections currently are made. We see big things in this brand’s future and we’ll surely be watching it in the years to come. You can find more information on IAMI at

Mahlet Afework

MAFIMAFI by Ethiopian designer, Mahlet Afework. Photo by Eric Acquaye.

The last but by no means the least on our list was MAFIMAFI by Ethiopian designer, Mahlet Afework. Some may recognize this brand, as this designer is no stranger to the fashion industry. A formal model and musician having transitioned into a clothing designer and now taking on a shoe line with the same drive and individuality, MAFI is definitely one on our list to watch. Using only hand woven fabrics and materials made by women, she has created a company that not only compliments her stylish clients, but also one that uplifts and empowers women in her community.

Shoes are not usually an accessory that you associate with weaving, but let us be the first to tell you that MAFI is breaking the mold with their new woven shoe collection! So beautiful and unique, you purchase a piece of Ethiopian tradition and art with every pair. We’re not too surprised as Mahlet has shown at Africa Fashion Week and has already won several awards. This brand is a well-oiled engine that is not set on stopping anytime soon–a train we are happy to jump aboard anytime. Find more on Mahlet and her brand MAFI at

So there you have it! These are my picks for ZNews accessory designers to watch. We expect big things from all of these brands in the seasons to come and we encourage our readers to look them up and support their brands. You can find more highlights on these designers and many other great brands by visiting  


Eric Acquaye covers fashion and travel for ZNews Africa. He is an award-winning fashion and celebrity Photographer, Writer and Creative Director based in New York. His editorial work and commercial campaigns have been featured in a variety of international print and digital publications. He is a GQ Magazine Insider, with a degree in styling and fashion from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

View his work at, follow him on Instagram at @ericacquaye and Twitter at @ericacquayeNYC

For editorial inquires contact:


Experts discuss the politics of hair and identity in Harlem

On Thursday, July 30th, ZNews Africa hosted its first hair and identity event, “We Are Our Hair,” at ImageNation’s Raw Space in Harlem, New...