Ngaatendwe Mapako: The Man In The Mirror With ‘The Eth’ Tote Bag (ebeg)



By Nakai Zenda

‘I’m starting with the man in the mirror , I’m asking him to change his ways and no message could have been any clearer If they wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make a change.’  

l am sure that by now feet are bouncing, hands are strumming and heads are bobbing up and down to this popular 80s tune by the king of pop, Michael Jordan.

When Ngaatendwe Mapako told me in an interview that he decided to stop complaining and start acting, the tune naturally flowed through me.

In critical consciousness and life skills studies they will tell you that we all have a consciousness. This is a state of being alive.

However, critical consciousness refers to a deep sense of questioning or skeptical mental disposition characterized by thinking critically [thinking seriously] as well as skeptically about reality.

The point to these brief but educative statements is to show you the demanded state Ngaatendwe had to commend to enable to take a stand against climate change through a fun-filled creative way.

He decided to stop dwindling and scribbling art that had no impact in his notebook and to work towards making art that matters. He is the ingenuity behind The Eth. The idea is an ebeg; an environmental bag; but the creative twist is interesting: earth-bag-ever-green, ebeg.

When asked exactly how it began, he narrated about how when he was working with the Guided Youth team (ZimSphere once wrote about Guided Youth in great detail here), they did a tote bag campaign and that’s when the idea stuck. Cemented. Of course the process in creating the brand has an intriguing phenomenon of complicated simplicity to it. What inspired the first idea sprouted and gave root to another story that inspired the next. And so on and so on. The infinite power of fashion creativity.

Note to self: the key take-away is that do not rigidly restrict yourself to one background story. Let yourself evolve, and let inspiration take hold however it may; creativity for social transformation.

The core issue behind The Eth is projecting Ngaatendwe’s immense love for the sanctity of nature and how that artistically drove him to produce sustainable fashion items that send across a desired educative message — particularly for youthful populations in Zimbabwe. The essence of this article is to bring light to what the Eth represents (a curious shift in modern Zimbabwean clothing, mostly urban in specificity).

Ngaatendwe Mapako, the brains behind ‘The Eth’ ebeg. PIC: Tawanda Chimanya

The Eth — a simple but powerful statement delicately engraved on the cool and wavy tote bags — embodies a movement towards climate change mitigation by earth lovers. Their tote bags in shape and design have fragile material, just as our earth: mother nature. The same way you go to lengths to take care of the bag is a mini boot camp for lesson 101 ;How to treat the earth good, with tenderness.

Thus, the beautiful quote ‘The Earth’ is only as fragile as you treat it. This is our earth and no one else we clean it up for us except us.  The way you treat your bag determines its life expectancy. These are powerful narratives (not only in Zimbabwe but globally) being enabled through the fashion trends in vogue.

The Eth tote bags have different colour with different meanings behind. Colours are meant to be symbols and bold statements towards a greater cause.

The green coloured tote bags represent the universal of symbol for sustainability. Another colour that is also available is white.

White is an all-round player, in the eyes of the friendly childhood games we would call it a charter. It goes great with any outfit and blends well with whatever occasion it is called for and makes the decision making process all too easy.  

It showcases the bold choice to go green and goes along with the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle‘ trend. Perhaps the most inspirational thing l gathered from Ngaatendwe was to expect the surprise, accept the surprise, and love the surprise.

Crazy ideas give birth to ingenuity in the fashion industry. Fashion is ever an ever evolving dynamic in nature and that’s the best.

His biggest surprise is people’s dynamic reactions. Finding out how people can react to something on a level that was not initially anticipated. He’s used the element of surprise in a good way to intrigue people into wanting to know more about the brand.When addressed with the question of whether or not he has met his expectations he concluded that he went beyond his expectations.

As a human being we all have the ‘l could have done better moments’ but there is the beauty in ever evolving together with your expectations. Perfect example is Ngaatendwe getting colour requests beyond the initial intended one and having to navigate his way around that.Five years from now expect more moments ,more collaborations that speak to the core of his ingenuity; action against climate change.

Upon further introspection, who wouldn’t want more to this when there is more to it. But one thing that won’t change even five years from now is his collected knowledge. The everyday conscious habits not to throw away litter recklessly, to reduce ,reuse and recycle. They say old habits die hard and we are definitely all for keeping the little innovative ones alive!

After such a detailed introspective peak into his mind l really had to know what two things aside from food and water he would want to take with him on a deserted island. Thousand things in the world; and he decided to play Solomon’s advocate in the best way possible.

He chose wisdom and understanding. To be able to survive and navigate the island one needs to be wise enough to make the right decisions. Why something is happening and why it is happening. If this does not further accentuate the critical thinking mindset alluded to above, then I do not know what is.

Some of us had readily gone for novels and a never ending supply of bubbly chocolate. When all is said and done, The Eth is a strategic move towards a beauty with brains kind of vibe brand and that is the best feeling ever. Knowing you added to the world in the best way possible is the only way to live with yourself.

And we continue singing ‘A summer’s disregard, A broken bottle top, And a one man’s soul ,They follow each other on the wind you know

Cause they got nowhere to go, That’s why l want you to know,  I’m starting with the man in the mirror’ .

This article’s twist goes a little like this though,’ An article’s disregard, A broken earth we walk, And a one earth available, They follow each other you know (climate causes and effects), Cause they got nowhere to go, That’s why l want you to know, I’m starting with the man in the mirror,.I’m asking him to buy an earth friendly climate change awareness tote bag and spread the word. And no message could have been any clearer.


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