Wednesday, June 21, 2017

MammyAfrika opens up on her unique and creative abilities that inspire the African woman to stand up, do things and create the difference.

Who is  MammyAfrika?

 Silvia BIH Asongwe AKA MammyAfrika, so passionate about creative pieces that make the man, giving an identity to the African woman, is a passion-driven young female entrepreneur who produces​ Eco-friendly accessories and Craft items for trendy, suburban lovers of creative pieces of art and beauty.
She is a single mother with roots in Mankon ntinkag, somewhere in the grass fields of the North West Region of Cameroon. As an "ex-geekess" (feminine for geek) who worked as Cisco Network/Systems Engineer in Uganda, where she juggled work along side handcraft work, she says it is easy to judge fashion and style as an unnecessary extension of our social needs, but fashion is not a figment of a bored, rich housewife's imagination, It’s about something else that comes from within you.

Growing up as a kid, MammyAfrika was exposed to parents who made lots of items and food products at home. In her early childhood, she had no idea what bread bought from a store tasted like because her dad baked everything the family needed. And as fashion is the subject of so many memorable passionate sartorial things  - from designers to models and actresses - MammyAfrika developed the habit of musing on her favourite. Naturally, being surrounded by such creative people automatically stirred up her desire to use her hands. This was expressed in her obsession in rearranging the living room over and over again, making and pasting Wall decorations, drawing, cutting out shapes from cardboards etc.
MammyAffrika's Love for Craft made her see Style (like Bill Blass) as primarily a matter of instinct. Everyone can be fashionable she admits, for fashion does not mean you try to be someone else. You can be fashionable regardless of age, shape, or profession. MammyAfrika holds strongly to the inspiration to be fashionable without spending beyond your budget. This gives her customers a deep sense of satisfaction who in their usual quest to have new and unique crafted designs,  make themselves.


 Motivated by a sister who loved doing necklaces, MammyAfrika decided to create something new, different and unique which will be loved by everyone.
As Lord Chesterfield said, When a person is in fashion, all they do is rght, MammyAfrika's fashionable pieces take everyone into consideration. Men like Women, yuppie, boys, girls and babies find beautiful unisex accessories( principally necklace sets) decorated clothes, shoes, purses and cozy Craft items for interior home decoration, crochet woven dining set chairs, side stools, tables and beautiful articles designed for office space. All African styled .

Being a small business owner in​ Cameroon has been very challenging for MammyAfrika who finds the environment difficult to break, given the lack of facilities and tools needed to speed up production. Another challenge she faces daily is the mindset of different people toward the consumption of home-made products. The limited consumption of local products hinders the producers and slows down purchase. MammyAfrika also thinks there's also a huge lack of a good understanding of our roots, and the need to embrace our culture​ to promote the Craft men and women who make  these items. MammyAfrika therefore looks forward to becoming a future household brand which will provide a Cameroonian-African identity we can all be proud of.


While in Uganda MammyAfrika had her first crazy hectic experience of a runway event for the contest of Miss Nkumba University. She was asked to dress up the contestants with her accessories. This got her distracted until she chose to starve her distraction with her focus with the projection of her beautiful and unique products. And like Anthony Burgess said: 'Women thrive on novelty and are easy meat for the commerce of fashion', the zest in the beauty of her fashionable and elegant products attracted so much much appreciation and screams from the audience that she got exhausted. She almost reconsidered what she was doing if it involved such hectic schedules.  For a long while as a stay-at-home mother, fashion weeks didn't fit well into her crazy schedules. One of the challenges she faced raising kids as a single mom.

Somehow, the challenge only made her more resilient and equal to the task despite the key low times. It became hard to concentrate on a piece of handwork when many cute little faces pulled her from every direction, demanding attention or making what suddenly seemed like buzzing sounds from a bee hive in her ears.

Since 2014 after a Louis Fame clothing line runway showcase, MammyAfrika has bee part of exhibitions at a movie festival and the FIAFA Fashion event,  exhibitions at bold and beautiful Camer Ladies, with one of  her role models Anrette Ngafor, exhibitions as a Fako Craft member at the  FESTAC  cultural festivals which take place every year in Limbe . She has also been in partial hibernation doing more ground work and determined to soar soon.





What drives MammyAfrika?

 I'm driven by the vastness of my imaginative ability and fueled by passion instilled by what my eyes see when I look at my surroundings and the pattern of nature around me and it's positive impact on mankind. Makes me feel a surge of oneness with it that helps me to also express what's in-built inside of me with ease or naturally.



  
What is your greatest influence? 

My greatest influence is my God consciousness. It's prove that anything we set our minds to is possible. Helps me go in search of why I'm here and what role I'm to play to give back to my community.

Who are your top three role models?
  
Hmm.... Top three???? I  didn't think this was going to be a tough one because I have quite a number of people who support and encourage me to take the path of hardwork, ingenuity, creativity and difference.  

Interesting enough, Father's day just went by and I did a Facebook post for my Father who is my number one role model. My father planted the natural flow of my creative abilities within and this groomed me to become who I am today. 

2. Irene MANGEM is my second role model . She's a lady I Love and respect deeply, who has (and is still impacting ) created much change and impact in my life with her positive attitude and energy.  And I'm not sure if there's a law about role models being people who must be much older than I am. Is there? She simply deposits a heart of Love and compassion for others in my community and nation at large in to me each time I listen to her.  I call her " Sunshine everywhere". I admire how much of a resilient, driven and above all Loving person she is and it sets a pace for me too.

3. Thirdly, as I scanned my list of models I also found an icon who though is of late, made a mark in history.  His creative, determined and passionate ways of doing things, besides the heart of gold he has,  made me strive to work hard to attain excellence. 'Heal the World' and 'Man in the Mirror' are songs  late Michael Jackson moved the globe with.


Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
 
 Empowering communities through creative projects. Encouraging and fostering  young talented  entrepreneurs in Cameroon and Africa.


What are the challenges faced by African Women?

I'd say mental bondage. It's a whole lot of aspects all together in these two words​. But it all begins in the mind. The power you give to anything is what will have control over you. In the case of the African woman, she needs to rise up above the challenges the society has programmed and engineered her in to and educate her mind positively to the point where she is an exact reflection (by way of manifestation) of productivity at all levels. No limits!


What do you do to relax?

Exercise, music and nostalgic meditation is relaxing to my mind.

What is your ICE inspiration?
  
I'm inspired by nature so I look forward to contributing to the health of my environment and our planet.  The reason  why  most of my products are Eco friendly from recycled material.  A perfect example of an environment friendly commodity I manufacture and market, is the trending pyramid necklace. 

I celebrate child likeness and my vision is to contribute positively in nurturing the minds of young children .

Lastly, I'm empowered by the simple fact of being a woman and amazed at my make up and it's capabilities, which if well trained, and put in to use, makes me visualize impacting other women who are still struggling with who they really are and how we can together exercise wholeness of body, soul and spirit for the betterment of our society.



Any Plans for the African Union?

 Honestly I never thought about this, but now that I'm thinking about it, I sure won't mind being part of the panel that channels the problems faced by African women in the sector of handcraft, for example, the lack of industrial facilities and how we can lobby for best practice solutions.


Any advice for the African Woman?
  
The African woman must find that place in between the too many responsibilities and challenges she faces daily where she can truly maintain a sound mind and be able to listen to the still small voice within which always speaks the truth about who she is. I call that place, BALANCE.

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