Ghanaian designer Astu Numadzi started his fashion career simply because he wanted Africans to start wearing clothes made by Africans in Africa, for Atsu is a proud pan-Africanist. “I am 100% pan-Africanist, in my work, in my fashion, in my everything.” But how to go about this? The answer came when Atsu realised that everyone wears T-shirts “ladies, guys, old men” and that this could be the key.
With this realisation, Atsu started to embellish T-shirts with African fabric. When he started in 1999, Atsu collected scrap pieces of fabric from tailors in Accra to sew onto his T-shirts. Over time, he started buying fabric from other parts of West Africa and later East Africa, when he married a Tanzanian and moved to Dar es Salaam. Atsu admits that while the T-shirt does not originate from Africa, the fabric he sews on does, and to him the fabric is the most important element. Atsu mixes fabric from across the continent on one T-shirt to represent African unity.
While Atsu’s fashion label 2Heads has branched out to include other lines, he is still best known for this signature tee, which is how I found out about him. Photographer Mutua Matheka had met Atsu and bought a T-shirt while in Dar es Salaam. Weeks later, in Nairobi, the T-shirt caught my eye and Mutua introduced me to Atsu. It seemed only fitting then that Mutua would model the T-shirt for Maridadi.co.
Mutua Matheka in his 2Heads tee. Photograph courtesy of Mutua Matheka.