Sibahle, as a brand, has evolved from being what started out as a poster series moving into a magazine and publication space, into just a creative platform for all kinds of creative outlets that speak to African beauty, that speak to our potential as a people. “This year in particular the brand will be focusing on collaboration, collaborating with other artists in different spaces,” said Ruramai Musekiwa, the founder of Sibahle.
“Sibahle as a brand is really a brand that seeks to empower African women and youth through creative mediums,” Ruramai told Vuka Darkie. “The youth including men, I must not exclude men at all; we can’t exclude men in the process of building. I think the reason why there is a separate focus on women is because I am women myself and I feel that we need to empower ourselves as African sisters; empower each other and find ways of coming together to really create tangible solutions to our social ills.”
The Sibahle poster series started early last year with the illustration of women that inspire the founder, Ruramai, on a personal level or otherwise and eventually it just grow into a viral kind of a digital movement and, to date, has illustrated 14 posters of different women in different fields.
“Moving forward the Sibahle poster series is not just going to be about illustrating just prominent women, it is about moving into communities and illustrating abomama that are involved in the community itself,” she said, “telling real stories, like everyday people doing phenomenal things and it’s just not about these famous women and prominent women, but there are real women on the daily who are doing amazing things, so it is about celebrating them so that they have that sense of appreciation as well.”
Sibahle is an interactive brand that really speaks to its audience and involves its audience in its creative process.
The vision of the brand includes, but not limited to, moving into a continental space, moving into different spaces within Africa; doing creative workshops, getting the magazine into print and really just showcasing African creativity and beauty. “If we don’t embrace our beauty we can’t live from a place of power,” she said. “If you don’t know your beauty, your worth, your potential you can’t live from a place of power. So, we need to come back to that place where we acknowledge how beautiful we are, how the creator made us in such a beautiful way and from there we can really build and live up to our full potential.”
“I define beauty as the highest level, or the highest expression, of your gifting as a person, of your power as a person, because if you are not expressing that in its fullness I feel that you are not doing justice to whom you were created to be. I think Sibahle is an extension of that concept for me, expressing the highest level of our potential as a people, of my potential as an individual – the pinnacle of expression.”
“Aspiring creatives shouldn’t be afraid to pursue their careers in the creative space. It’s a saturated space but go out there, do something meaningful, don’t create work that is self-serving, create work that speaks to your context, where you’re at, and work that is meaningful that can really transform how people think.”
“I feel like we all need, as African people, a new frame of reference. I think that our image and the imagery that depicts Africans is always smeared with negativity and speaks to weakness, it speaks to oppression,” she said, “I really want to bring forth images in my work that speak to our power and potential as a people because that is what should define us, not images of slavery and oppression; that should not be the narrative that is at the forefront of who we are.”
Sibahle is positioned as a social enterprise, it is not just about selling merchandise but it really is about creating a platform where young artists can also engage with Sibahle and also express themselves using the platform, be it the publication, the magazine itself, be it spaces of events; it is a social enterprise that is very present in the African context.
How people get a hold of Sibahle is via sibahle.com, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and the twitter and Instagram handle is @sibahleafrica. “We need to shift the paradigm; we know that we are not in control of this economy. It is important for us to be in ownership of businesses in our pursuits,” concluded Ruramai.
By Themba Ka Mhlanga