A Nigerian native, Taoheed Bayo has joined the list of young Africans taking the world by storm after winning a Nike design challenge.
An undergraduate student of the University of Minnesota pursuing a degree in actuarial science, was among several across the United States chosen to participate in the Nike BY You X Cultivator contest after being informed of the competition by his roommate.
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With two weeks to develop Nike sneakers with inimitable backstory, the 21-year-old called on his Nigerian and African ancestries to create a sneaker etched in his identity – dubbed the Afro-Yute Air Max 1.
The Afro-Yute Air Max 1 comes in green color as a recognition of the earth and Africa. It also featured white as well as a classic gold gum – white complementing the green color as it is in the Nigerian flag and gold signifying the continent’s depleting gold reserve.
And the suede leather, according to Bayo, signified the resolve and tenacity of the Afro-descendants in every endeavor.
“The most intense part, it was the designing,” said Bayo who’s also called TBuzz, according to SahanJournal.
“The most integral part I think was having a story that resonates with a lot of people and making sure that it’s authentic as possible. But, you’re also trying to design a shoe that you want everybody to buy, not just something you like,” he added.
Bayo continued: “Leather lasts longer, and it’s metaphorical in the fact that we Africans can endure…We last long. It’s almost like we can withstand time. We can adapt and endure multiple and numerous situations.”
Changing the narrative
According to Bayo, designing the Afro-Yute Air Max 1 has given him the chance to rewrite the African story of savagery and dispel that misconception.
“Africa is the centre of the world, we are no third world,” he declared via the Afro-Yute website.
“The yute are now equipped to fight the alien system that plagued our ancestors,” Bayo wrote on the Afro-Yute website.
“You know, ever since I was born, Africa has always referred to as a third world continent or a third world country or Nigeria has been referred to that,” he said. “By the ‘yute is equipped,’ I’m not saying we have gone to go fight. I’m just saying we’re able to educate ourselves.”
“I was born in Africa. I was born out of my roots,” he said. “For all the people that was born in the United States, it’s your duty, whether you like it or not to seek your truth and, you know, find your heritage,” he added.
Bayo’s success has led to the production of a short film celebrating his feat as the Afro-Yute Air Max 1 was flagged sold out on the Afro-Yute website at the time of writing this article.