Do what you can with what you have

Nowhere does the adage “necessity is the mother of invention” ring truer than in Africa, where ingenious designers are coming up with contextual solutions.

This is DJ Steloo. Steloo is a sound and fashion artist based in Accra, Ghana and is pioneering the house music and electronic scene in his country. His trail-blazing music is reinforced by his individual look. Steloo is on a mission to rewrite the African story on music, fashion and being daring enough to be different. 

Ghana is not the easiest of places to be producing electronic music in. Lack of infrastructure, slow internet speeds and inconsistent power all provide their own types of challenge. The residents of Accra have a word to describe the power outages. “Dumsor” (made up of two words in the local Akan dialect) literally translates to “on-off” and describes the constant state of unpredictable electricity. Unlike in many other countries where outages move around the residential areas of cities on a rolling schedule and often only last a few hours, in Ghana dumsor can last for days… 

But even in these conditions, the city is one of the most exciting creative spaces in the continent and DJ Steloo is one example of this. When you don’t know where your electricity is coming from you find your power within. Design in Africa requires a certain about of alchemy. 

Creativity is a real force. Give it two sticks and it will make a bridge. The continent’s designers are extraordinary and resourceful producers. Scarcity is a hard taskmaster, but it is also the mother of invention, and if there is one thing that captures the essence of design and creativity in Africa today it would be the ability to turn scarcity into opportunity. 

Resourceful African designers are salvaging, recycling and upcycling the commodity waste from the “throwaway” economies of the more developed world. Though this is sometimes out of necessity, it also makes a poignant point about the consumer nature of first world economies.