To understand the meaning and the choice of the language in which the name OLOWOU was used, we felt the need to bring forth the history of our origin “Dahomey” currently known as Benin Republic. Benin has been part of the long and well known history of slavery in West Africa. A boarding country with a notorious town on the south shore called Ouidah with a concentration prison called “Fort Français”.
OLOWOU is a creation of Salmata Yémi ABDOULAYE or Mrs. Akobi. OLOWOU means “Highest Cotton Master”, spoken in “Yoruba”, one of the oldest among
the multitude dialects in Benin Republic. The diversity comes from the multiplicity of the ethnic groups of slaves that were brought from different areas of the west coast to “Dahomey”, to board for the triangle journey (Slave Trade). From those slaves who were left behind for some reason, finally found home and became part of the society. That is how we have so many dialects or languages in the country. That is how we got to speak Yoruba of the languages in which we created the name OLOWOU.
Our motivation for years has been to promote the African artifact coupled with the handcraft ingenuity of the people of African descent, more importantly from the people of Benin Republic.
A few years ago after we have completed our studies, we tried to look for a job that can provide us with a normal standard of living. Very quickly we realized that it was not the best choice. Not because we neither had the ability nor the intellect to acquire the job but that option will only serve one purpose. Taking care of our own limited families and subsequently losing the ultimate picture of making a difference in our communities, country, continent and eventually in the world.
With that in mind, the idea of using the local labor and resources to make the Benin batik art into a modern life style became the focus point of our mission.
We started our enterprise with two employees three years ago without any funding or real capital. It was just by personal means and efforts that we succeeded in having our first products exhibition here in the United States. Today still not funded and operating at our own baby steps, we have twenty one local employees that create, design, sew and put together all our line of products locally.
Not only do we produce locally, we also use recyclable materials such as soda cans. We essentially promote Benin’s ORGANIC COTTON ranking as the best in the world. From that vision came our mission statement of making a better living from our local resources by the locals while thinking of the environment protection.
By purchasing our products, not only are we buying a lifestyle item but also, we are contributing to a philanthropic act towards the employees of OLOWOU. These employees earn a living from OLOWOU that allows them to provide education opportunity to their children. With that concern in mind at OLOWOU, we strive to develop more of our members to improve and showcase the talent otherwise hidden with the best organic cotton in the world.
Thank you for supporting the Benin handcraft.