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It’s easy to get swept up in trends, celebrated calendar days, and the intricacies of search engine and social media algorithms to remain relevant. Instead of focusing on our core missions, we get distracted by Instagram likes, Google rankings, hashtags, taglines, and click-baiting consumers. Afro-curious and Afrocentric creatives are not immune from these developments. 

However, AYA Africa believes that the ‘Made in Africa’ movement has the stamina and scope to withstand the coming and going tides of change because it speaks to our lived experiences and realities. Made in Africa is more than just a geographical land mass, or which people inhabit a particular space, or how an individual looks. It includes the descendants of slaves and slave owners who dance to the rumba in Havana’s nightclubs and cafes. It embraces the fabric dye craftsmen in the Kofar Mata Dye Pits in Kano, Nigeria who have been practicing this skill for centuries. It reverberates and manifests itself in the grime music scene in east London in the UK. Made in Africa is both palpable and effervescent. It must gain global currency and be people-to-people-centered. 

At AYA Africa, the Made in Africa movement is at the forefront of everything we do, and we believe no one individual or entity can have a monopoly on what it is and what it should look like. We place a premium on craftsmanship which requires time and dedication to make the items we sell timeless and essentially priceless. There is more than enough room for creatives to exhibit their artistic talents under the Made in Africa umbrella. It is always a question of how creatives wish to show up and be seen. 

AYA Africa advocates for collaborating to radically imagine an African creative economy that is rooted in interdependent ecosystems that leverage our strengths and compensate for our weaknesses. AYA Africa has come to the irrevocable conclusion that we cannot do it alone, and we understand many others cannot do it alone either. But let us not collaborate for collaboration’s sake, and rather invest our time and energy in things that will yield the best fruit from our collective labour. 

AYA Africa wishes to thank all the creatives who keep toiling and soldiering on, while hardly being recognized for their extraordinary talent. And yet you do it anyway because you are driven by a deep sense of love for the process. 

AYA Africa is fighting for Africa’s creative economy to move away from ‘entrepreneurship for subsistence’ and put it on the path of wealth creation and value addition, where people can make a living and live the lives they envision for themselves. We are unapologetic about this latter point and want other marketplaces to do the same. 

For all those who are supporting creatives in their localities and further afield, we thank you too. Whether it is B2B or B2C purchases, you are helping us develop solutions that mirror our daily habits and creating a digital infrastructure that is accessible, easy to use, and highly scalable. 

We must not be fooled by ‘delusional positivity’ and creating false comfort through sloganeering and rhetoric. Making Made in Africa goods and products viable is a tough ask, but a necessary one if we genuinely want to build the Africa We Want. What AYA Africa wants more than anything else is to see Africa’s culture and heritage celebrated every day on the continent and internationally through the works of Afro-curious and Afrocentric creatives. 

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