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An Ode to
Beginnings

We  could  tell  you  that  our  products  are  unique,  but  that’s  not  unique: many  brands  can truthfully make the same claim.  We are unique not only because of our origins, our dreams and the challenge we set for ourselves, but also because we have a little-known story to tell - and who doesn’t love an exclusive? Our stories are an invitation to see: through the eyes of one’s imagination and the eyes of those who have come before us.

Chanzo: A story
of beginnings

Our launch collection is a story of beginnings. Not just the story of our beginning as a brand, but the story that, as individuals, we all share as part of our collective human experience. We’ve  called  this  collection "Chanzo",  a  classic  Swahili  word  meaning "beginnings" or  in some contexts "the source" because through each piece we wanted to tell a universal story of  beginnings  through  the  lens  of  Africa’s  cultural  heritage.  That’s the  genesis  of  Chanzo (pun most definitely intended).

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From Earth to Life

When  we  began  researching  materials  with  which  to  create  the  Chanzo  collection,  we looked  around  our  environment  for  a  material  that  was  intrinsically  linked  to  beginnings.  We  were  also  inspired  by  oral  tradition,  the  creation  myths  and legends  passed  down through  the  generations.  Like  the  West  African  legend  of  creation  where  two  spirit  people are sent to Earth by the god of the sky. They arrive at their destination and find themselves alone  and  bored  so,  sitting  at  a  riverbank,  they  begin  to  mold  clay  figures  of  children,  and the  human  race  is  born.

 

We were also inspired by oral tradition, the creation myths and legends

And then along the same lines, there’s the one where the god of the sky (he pops up a lot in African  mythology)  sends  his  son,  Oduduwa,  from  the  heavens to  the  ancient  river  below, down  a  great  chain.    Oduduwa  takes  with  him  a  handful  of  soil,  a  palm  nut  and  a  chicken with  five  toes.    He  casts  the  soil  over  the  ancient  river and  sets  the  chicken  to  work, spreading,  scratching  and  scattering  it  to  form  the  first  continent  where  he  then  plants  his Comment [WL1]: but also of originsComment [WL2]: origins palm nut. 

 
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The Mother Element

In both these tales, we observe the powerful significance of soil as relates to beginnings, "the mother  element" respected and revered across many cultures within and outside of Africa and the inspiration for our use of clay in our beginnings. We see soil as a constant reminder of those who have gone before us.  A link to our beginnings.  We draw parallels between the traditional  use  of  soil  to  seal lifelong  relationships  and  our  intention  to  seal  the  same  long-lasting  relationships  with  SIWWAA  customers. 

 

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So  at  the  core of  the  Chanzo  collection  is  the  earth.  Created  almost  entirely  out of  ceramic made  from  a  type  of  clay  that  can  only  be  found  in  a  specific  area  at  the  foot  of  Mount Kenya.  This  clay  is  special  because  it  has  unique  properties  that  ensure  the  longevity  of products  made  from  it.  It  was  also  an  excellent  way  to  showcase  a  lesser-known  form  of African craftsmanship - African ceramics, employing a modern day expression of a craft that has only just begun to appear on the global map, in a contemporary reinterpretation, thanks to  ceramicists  such  as  Magdalene  Odundo.

 

A story of generations

As  you  immerse  yourself in  the  visual  world of  Chanzo, you  can’t  fail  to  notice our  focus on the  earth as the  traditional "feminine source".  Our use of female models, young and old in the  visual  narrative  alludes  to  this.  We  tell  the  story  of  generations,  and  the  story  of  the brand –  The  passing  down  of  heritage  from  one  to  the  other.

 
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Our  photography  and  videography  will  fill  your  senses  with  the  spectacular  landscapes  of Kenya’s  stunning  Rift  Valley,  the  cradle  of  mankind,  giving  you  a glimpse  of  the  beautiful Lake  Magadi  area  and  the  Olorgosaile  archaeological  site,  where  Homo  erectus  was  at  his most developed

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And finally, the collection pays homage to our spiritual home, Lamu, with pieces feauturing the same weave seen on furniture and architectural lattices all around the island.