Ndesumbuka Merinyo (Mwafrika) has been on the culture map of Tanzania for the past three decades. Painter (water colours), sculptor, writer with three published books, poet, art and literary critic and fashion writer, Merinyo finally followed the fashion call after meeting with his life partner, the designer Ailinda Sawe. The two gave the concept of African fashion to their hallmark business, Afrika Sana.
At Afrika Sana, Merinyo created and run the textile design and production unit, in the process mentoring and training young people in the crafts of batik, tie-dye, beadwork and screen printing. In its existence, the unit produced a batch of six fully qualified designers-cum-trainers who turned out to be entrepreneurs in their own right.
Merinyo’s designs put heavy accent on the cultural element with a graphic perspective, being much influenced by the village cultural milieu where the designer feels at home both in lifestyle and the social influence.
In 1990 Merinyo organized, coordinated and run the Awareness Tanzania Fashion Event, bringing together five popular designers of the time: Manju Msita, Ailinda Sawe, Stella Gwao, the late Kiiza Kahama and Asya Idarous.
Merinyo participated and had immense input to the National Dress dialogue and competition in Tanzania, winning overall in the Kilimanjaro region chapter; and was on the National Dress Committee appointed by the Minister responsible for culture. This committee was given the task of overseeing the process for initiating the concept of Tanzania’s National Dress.
The formation of a fashion association had been on Merinyo’s mind for some fifteen years since he tried to convince other designers in 2002 to form an association without success. Proliferation of much work in designing and the emergence of many younger designers in the wake of Mustafa Hasanali’s popular Swahili Fashion Week event, and more call for unity among designers, spurred him to fulfill his 15-year dream by bringing together other ten designers and founding the Tanzania Fashion Designers Association (TAFDA).