Significance of names
Names are significant and powerful. I think particularly so in Africa. A name is like a title of a book or movie almost a summary of what to expect. In the Tumbuka tribe found in Eastern Zambia and Malawi where my maternal Grandfather is from, names are situational – with the meaning of the name often reflecting what was happening at the time or prior to the child being born.
The story ofour name
Understanding the meaning of Kutowa makes sense of who and what Kutowa is. Kutowa is the root of my name Towani, given to me by my maternal Grandmother or Agogo as is said in Tumbuka or Ngoni. Although Agogo was Ngoni she gave me the Tumbuka name “Towani” the root of which is “Kutowa” meaning “so bright and beautiful you dazzle”.
The story behind the name is that of the mixed marriage of my parents – my English Father and my Zambian Mother and the opposition they initially faced in getting married. On the Zambian side the comments came, “…we have gotten independent from the British and now you want to marry one?” and “If you wanted to marry a white man you could have at least picked one with money!”. While on the English side it was bad enough to lose a son to Africa but now to lose him to an African woman brought the reply, “How easy is it to get a divorce over there?” And one thing both sides agree on, “Think about the children!” surely they would be messed up…..
So when I was born several years later, Agogo, we did not initially have any issue with the marriage, took pleasure in reminding people that as they could see “this marriage was bright and beautiful” and “the children you were so worried about are beautiful too”
The essence of who we are
So this is Kutowa – a fusion of my heritage – a mixture of European aesthetics, cuts and vibrant colourful African fabric and minimalism. A clash of two different fashion senses to come up with something new and different that incorporates both but nothing like the individual fused components. Kutowa is also my answer to the conundrum of being an African living in a Europeanized world. Garments that reflect outwardly my inner essence of being a child of the New Age – a mix of many cultures and traditions.
And when you wear Kutowa we want you to feel like the bright and beautiful person you are and even if you don’t see that yourself people will be dazzled by your brightness and beauty.
Reincarnation or recycling
Names in other tribes reflect the once common African belief in reincarnation and that the ancestors come back to be with us. At Kutowa we reflect that value in honouring the ancestors by not misusing the resources we have today and take pride in using scraps of fabric and other items that otherwise would have been thrown away to make accessories and other useful items. Breathing a new lease of life to things that would otherwise have been thrown on the trash heap. You will notice, we pack our items in a reusable bag that we hope you will have great pleasure in reusing or lovingly giving away to others to use.