Ethno Art Vision
Emmanuel Shuga Kasongo is a Congolese-born French designer who moved from Paris to London where he established his creative business, Ethno Art Vision in 1997. He creates handbags, jewelry and other accessories inspired by his heritage, travels and background in the fashion industry. Aided by NGOs, part of Emmanuel’s work interests sees him help local African artists and associations to further develop their products for an international market. On one of projects he discovered a palm fiber handbag, created by the women of Molokai village in Congo that uses a form of raffia; Emmanuel worked with the women to design, develop and market the bags.
The twelve small villages around Molokai are all connected by bush and raffia palm. It’s the palm fiber that is used for making the raffia fabric. The handwork of sewing the woven raffia into bags, clothing, fabric or embroidering designs onto the cloth is women’s work. The size of each raffia panel is restricted by the length of the single fiber, usually about a yard square. This sturdy fabric is all used, from baskets for carrying just about anything, to the clothes on their backs; nothing goes to waste.