Ep.27 Why Afrika With a ’K’ | Mugendi M’Rithaa

Ownership in our designs, culture, and traditions


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[00:00:00] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Afrika with the K is how Africans see themselves or a view from the inside looking out. We usually argue that over 2,500 indigenous languages on this continent, all spell Africa with a K. And so, we use it as a kind of tool to contrast the Africa with the C which is essentially how the rest of the world views Africa from the outside looking in...

[00:00:22] Hosts (Adrian/Naitiemu): Why Africa with a K?

On this episode, Professor Mugendi K. M'Rithaa expounds on the co-creation of a new narrative of an emerging Africa. He's President Emeritus and convener of the Senate of the World Design Organization, and a longstanding supporter and friend to Nairobi Design Week. After this episode, we'll be taking a one-month break in September to schedule more guests, work on our production, and will reconvene with more informative and entertaining conversations from around the world.

[00:00:54] Welcome to Afrika Design, a creative tour of Africa.

[00:00:58] Host (Adrian): First thing, there's a very interesting story behind your name. So, maybe you can tell us about that. What does it mean?

[00:01:06] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Okay. I think I'll be generous since I have three parts of my name. The first part of my name Mugendi means a traveler. The second or middle name is Kanampiu, which means a warrior because it means one who bears a spear. My surname M'Rithaa means a person who is a visionary or ahead of their time. So, Mugendi is a popular one. That's a traveler. That's me.

[00:01:29] Host (Adrian): So, you're a traveler, a warrior, and an innovator.

[00:01:34] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Okay. That's a nice one. I'd like to keep that.

[00:01:37] Host (Adrian): There you go. That's become actually since maybe speaking to you, a question on the podcast for us very often because it turns out that people's names often tell us about them as well.

[00:01:48] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Indeed. Indeed, names are powerful.

Afrika with a 'K'

[00:01:50] Host (Adrian): Well, speaking of names then, Africa with a K. And really the reason why this podcast has the name Afrika design spelled with a K. It's through conversations with yourself and with others as well. In terms of what does Africa with a K mean? Perhaps you could enlighten us.

[00:02:10] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Well, Afrika with a K is really a perspective of looking at the Continent and what we do as a kind of co-creation of our new narrative of an emerging Africa. So, we usually argue that over 2,500 indigenous languages on this continent, all spell Africa with a K.

[00:02:29] And so we use it as a kind of tool to contrast the Africa with the C which is essentially how the rest of the world views Africa from the outside looking in. So, it's meant to expand the dialogue to say that, that's one perspective which one can argue in terms of validity and relevance, which is fine, but then there's also this authentic narrative emerging from the continent itself.

[00:02:52] And the younger creatives can really resonate with this idea because they're constantly reinventing themselves and also the way the continent engages with the rest of the world. So that's Africa with a K.

[00:03:03] Host (Adrian): And what would you say to the detractors who might say that there are other names as well that maybe either came before or might be more authentic or both?

[00:03:13] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Yes. First of all, the first argument is culture and language are dynamic.

[00:03:18] So, for example, the word safari which has Arabic and Hindi roots which found itself in Swahili, now has become an English word. So, in the same way, words are appropriated constantly. And they're powerful because they're used with currency. So, what one would say then is, it's true, Africa was known by many names even in the


[00:03:42] So, it's a deliberate choice whilst acknowledging that history to say, now that we have the power to have that conversation, we choose to use that name because it represents this new emerging narrative that I described. It is not to suggest that the other narratives are without merit, but it is to give us a voice.

[00:04:04] And if you look at the post-colonial discourse, you'll see that people are starting to reclaim their identities. In a way, that language has been used very powerfully as a form of identity, in that context that we are saying that we would like to use Africa with a K to expand the narrative, one. But also, to emphasize the fact that

this is us, and if I can use the Nigerian proverb that kind of puts it in context because it's about history and it's about culture.

[00:04:30] Chinua Achebe captured it very well. In one of his books, things fall apart. And he says that until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. So, in a sense this emerging narrative is African saying, we want to tell our own history. We've heard what others have said about us and some of which we agree with, but some of which we may want to contest, but this is us co-creating an emerging narrative and history of the continent in a way that people may not have actually come to appreciate it.

[00:05:03] Host (Adrian): So, it's really about people taking ownership of it rather than being detractors of it, right? It's you give ownership to whichever name and however you see it and then come through with whatever is the message from yourself for that.

[00:05:20] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Indeed, Adrian. And I think the Nairobi design week is an excellent exemplar of how these emerging narratives is getting recognized because as a proponent of design thinking, which is a human-centered design approach, you've tried to look at it from the perspective of the end user.

[00:05:37] And if you look at it from that point, empathy is critical as a way of engaging with those multiple audiences. And so, when we do empathically engage with Africa, we find Africans are eager to express themselves in a way that they are celebrating their creativity while at the same time connecting with the rest of the world.

[00:05:57] So, maybe as a disclaimer, this is not Africa taking a step backwards in time. You know, indulging in some form of glorified naval gazing. This is Africa saying we've heard what Asia says of itself, what Europe says of itself. And now we are also wanting to join this conversation as equals. And this is how we'd like you to hear what we are saying.

[00:06:19] And this is the word we are going to use. Africa with a K is going to define this different or new narrative. And you are asking people, suspend judgment, suspend whatever you thought you knew about Africa with the sea so that we can engage in something dynamic and authentic which is the emerging narrative.

[00:06:37] Host (Adrian): So, when we are doing a lot of research and a lot of background reading after we have some guests on the show, we learn a lot. And we're always thinking, what are the resources that Africans can turn to? And actually, what are the resources that people can turn to when it comes to African design or indigenous design but specifically African design, where can people get their fix of African design?

[00:07:01] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Yes indeed. Happily, the Nairobi design week is my number one port of call. Well done to you and the team for really flying that flag high and in a manner that is of a global quality level. So, because usually we talk about world class. This is certainly one of those world class platforms that showcases the most dynamic and the broadest way in which design is celebrated within the creative industries.

[00:07:28] Of course, we also have the open design Africa, also with the K down in Cape town, which is also doing its bit. We have Africa design days in Morocco but those are the three that I'd like to speak of. And of course, emerging activities like the Kampala design week, which the Nairobi design week has inspired.

[00:07:45] So, if one is looking for emerging talent in Africa and how Africans are viewing themselves, there's no better place to but the Nairobi design week in my view and just to take us back one step African design is not suggesting that it is not influenced by the rest of the world. It also is acknowledging that it influences other parts of the world.

[00:08:07] So if you look at African music, for example, it's globally, acknowledges as excellent. In terms of quality and variety. If you look at African fashion, like I'm not wearing a very good specimen today, but I celebrate the African Kitenges and shirts. If

you taste African food like Ethiopian or Moroccan or other foods, you really celebrate the culinary creativity that goes in. So, what we are saying is that now design in its broader sense is coming of age. And the way that is happening is through platforms like the Nairobi design week, showcasing something uniquely African. Previously, people visited Africa and took samples of what they thought was exciting.

[00:08:45] Like a Shuka here, a fabric here. And unfortunately, when it was choreographed or curated, it tended to create a kind of Eurocentric interpretation of Africa. Now with Africa showcasing and curating and co-creating its own designerly expressions. We can stand by it. And I like the word used at the beginning, the sense of ownership. We can lay claim and say, this is us. This is ours. In the disability movement,

there's an expression I like which they use. They say nothing for us without us. And so, this kind of expression of African saying we want to talk about design with you guys. Don't speak about it without us.

[00:09:26] Don't talk about design in Africa without inviting Africans to also give their perspective. So, it's a much more inclusive dialogue. And in my view, a lot more wholesome because it does acknowledge the multiple voices that influence design,


Learning from our past

[00:09:41] Host (Adrian): Thank you so much for your always kind words and support and advice with Nairobi design week. We always try our best and how then... we'll come back to inclusivity and your expertise in that in a minute. You've talked about new talent. What about looking at the past talent, looking at what we can learn from our past and where can we go to learn about design and creativity and industries that came in the past in Africa?

[00:10:10] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Adrian, that's an excellent question because there's a saying that people who do not know their history or their past cannot embrace the future. So, in a sense, there's this beautiful Adinkra symbol called the Sankofa. It's a bird which is pruning itself by turning backwards.

[00:10:26] It's a symbol that is used to remind us to learn from the past. So, the Adinkra symbols from Ghana, brilliant way of engaging. We have the Bantu symbols, which I also found across East, Central, and Southern Africa. And one of my all-time favorite role models and heroes who had a chance to meet when I was a much younger designer, maybe approximately your age now, but that I can tell you was last century, is a lady called Esther Mahlangu. Who's heading to her late eighties soon to be 90. And

she's from the Ndebele community in South Africa. And she's been our ambassador since she was 16, actually. She's painted the tails of British Airways planes. The Fiat 500 when it was launched. BMW five series. Even gin and vodka bottles. She is working as hard as she was when she was a teenager when she started at 16 when she learned from her own mother.

[00:11:18] So, there are excellent examples of how Africans have actually been there and exemplified quality at the same time showing the dynamic range of color, form, texture that we find. There's a work that Hisham Lalu from Morocco and I did, it's called

African generation the power of design, and we showcase 50 designers from the continent in architecture, landscaping, jewelry, poetry, industrial designers, fashion, and so on. And we've shown that there are also of different ages somehow. More mature. Others are much younger, but there's a Pan- African kind of taste that you can get just by looking at what's going on in the continent. So yes, craft precedes design many centuries.

[00:12:03] And so it is good for designers to pay homage to who's gone before us. And we can see it in the craft around us, the traditional stools we sit on, and people like Peter Mabeo of Botswana have done that refresh, you know, the new furniture design is done. Bibi Seck, who's famous for designing the interior of the Renault E space, went

back to Senegal where he comes from, and did some beautiful furniture, which is basically taking traditional weaving techniques and embedding them into a modern industrial design aesthetic.

[00:12:34] Haldane Martin in Cape Town, did beautiful furniture where he's used ostrich feathers and even Zulu women weaving techniques in his Zulu mama chair. So, there are ways in which designers are constantly referencing the past, but refreshing it in a way that is incredibly exuberant. And that's something I celebrate constantly.

[00:12:55] Host (Adrian): Thank you for all those examples. I'm gonna rephrase that question again because I'd love to learn from your experience and academia as well, more formal academia in terms of museums or papers or resources and digging up those gems. How would you recommend people proceed about that?

[00:13:14] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Yes indeed. We have people if you've heard of Saki Mafundikwa, who's a Zimbabwean graphic designer and typographer. He was studying in Yale doing his master’s many years back and he went to Africa to do some research on African writing systems. Indeed, he writes the word Africa with a K because that's where he first came across this richness that had been lost almost.

[00:13:39] So, I would recommend African alphabets, the story of writing in Africa. That's by Saki Mafundikwa. It's a brilliant text well illustrated and he's very active, even as we speak. Then within the Pan-Afrikan Design Institute, which is a virtual platform,

PADI, as we call it. There's a whole series of talks and all kinds of activities that also reference the Pan-Afrikan agenda.

[00:14:02] So, you've got people like Richie Moalosi from Botswana, Lilac Osanjo from here in Kenya. And many other friends like Felix from Ghana. Who are all part of PADI and PADI's a dynamic platform that is constantly showcasing through conferences, seminars, talks, virtual meetings like this one, what's going on, on the continent.

[00:14:23] So, I'd really encourage maybe as part of what Nairobi design week is doing is to create a directory in one of your sections, where we can populate with interesting texts that someone wanting to read because we've been accused in Africa of not

writing. So, whenever there's a good piece of literature, we need to capture that and put it into this public domain.

[00:14:45] So, we'd be happy to share those and we can even crowdsource it, like, just tell people anything exciting you've come across recently that you'd like to share, and we cannot put it into our portal and people can access them there. Many of them actually are open source, but where they're not, one can always correspond with the

authors and get, you know, some of that input.

[00:15:05] Host (Adrian): Great. Thank you. That's a really big help. And we're very happy to look at how we can gather those resources, how we can put together a directory of things that would be useful in future because it's always good to browse and be able to seal these things at once and then research them.


[00:15:22] Host (Adrian): Back to inclusivity then and your experience in inclusivity. Maybe you can tell me where the passion for inclusivity started and how that's carried you through your career.

[00:15:34] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Wow. That's an interesting one. I think the first time I realized that people are different was when I was in primary school. I think the equivalent of grade or standard four, where one of my classmates’ older brother had suffered from polio, poliomyelitis. And one of his legs, therefore, was affected.

[00:15:52] And I recall because we used to play marbles and football that we actually adapted the game to accommodate him so he could play with his crutches and must have been nine or thereabouts at the time. But that was when I started to become sensitive that people are differently abled if I can put it that way. At the time I didn't

think too much of it but as I became a designer, I started to realize that even when we design consciously or unconsciously, we tend to design for able-bodied people and ignore huge portions of the human population. Like women, unfortunately, get knocked out because men do most of the designs. I've often given the example of a movie theater in any of our malls and see what happens outside the toilets. When everyone steps out, you find queue snaking around the corner for women, and for men there is no such queue. It's almost become a meme or one of those jokes that we make. But it just shows that someone somewhere forgot that women needed more facilities. And also, women typically are more than men, even in malls, anyway. Plus, women also tend to be the ones with the children, and therefore the facilities need to be accommodating. So, women is one category.

[00:17:04] Another category we forget is persons with disabilities. So, like ramps for entrances or doors that have sensors. So, they open up and you don't need to activate them with your hand. That has actually come in handy now during the COVID pandemic where you don't want to touch things.

[00:17:19] So, that's helped. Then, of course, children. If you look at most environments, they're actually dangerous for children. They get knocked by edges of tables and all kinds of sharp objects that you only realize if you've seen a toddler trying to navigate

a space. Even foreigners who don't speak local languages. So, the need for way-finding that uses universal symbolism so that instead of writing gents or ladies on a toilet, a little symbol that suggest it's for men or for women communicates much more universally.

[00:17:49] The idea of universal design, therefore, is to design for as many different categories of people as possible without the need for redesign. I think in the UK, it's called inclusive design, in Japan, Kyoyohin. Europe is designed for all, but it's this quest to try to accommodate as many people to be as inclusive if you may, as we possibly can as designers and architects and planners so that we don't omit the needs of any potential end-user.

[00:18:19] Host (Adrian): And what have you learned with your huge experience in network, working internationally with designers all across the world, through world design organization and other platforms? What has that taught you about differences of thought and inclusivity again?

[00:18:37] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Well, interestingly Adrian, when you go to most design schools globally there's not too much difference, maybe a little bit of superior infrastructure in one place where one has laser cutters, 3d printers, and so on. But because most of the schools of design were inspired by the Bauhaus movement, which is a basic workshop approach. You know, it's almost like an apprenticeship model. You'll find that they're not that different. What usually makes the difference is the context in which the design schools and the designers that they produce actually end up working in. For example, in places like India or Brazil, there is a focus on affordability, what they call extreme affordability.

[00:19:17] So, low-cost yet robust products become very important. And I think that's been relevant for Africa as well. When I go to places like Europe just to coin it differently, I speak about design for survival. Which is what you do, where design has to help people with very basic needs, you know, like I need water, I need clean sanitation.

[00:19:38] I need affordable housing and furniture that is robust yet affordable. And then there's what I call design after survival. I think John Thackara was the one who used that phrasing initially. And so, design after survival is what you find in Europe and in the US where people have resolved most of the basic needs.

[00:19:56] And now they're doing what you might call speculative or even performative design, where you can actually think about the what if, you know, like what will follow. So, there are people who are even in the fifth industrial revolution as we speak. Some of us are still grappling with the fourth industrial revolution. And the fifth industrial revolution apparently is just to contrast it, the fourth industrial revolution is the internet of everything where robotics and artificial intelligence you know, is being used with 5g and so on. But what is happening is sometimes in the fourth industrial revolution, people see robots as competitors for human talent.

[00:20:34] So, people are a bit, cynical or suspicious of robots because they think they're coming to take their job. So, a teacher might say, I don't like this guy, Alexa, or whoever she is because she might take my job if kids start talking to Alexa instead of asking me the questions. But in the fifth industrial revolution, we have what are called cobots.

[00:20:53] And these are collaborative robots where now humanity is embracing them. And this has been fast-tracked by the COVID pandemic so that they actually collaborate and help us with our lives. Maybe this is a happier place. I'm hoping that the dystopian view of technology and robots may be partially healed by the fact that we are looking at cobots as opposed to just merely robots.

[00:21:16] So, that's where we are at. And in the west, people have already arrived at the fifth industrial revolution while in much of the developing world, we are still emerging from the third and entering into the fourth and all the technologies associated with that development yet. And this is what I'd like to emphasize, the last mile is a human mile.

[00:21:36] So, whether you have high-tech solutions or middle-tech or low-tech versions. The touch point that is most critical is that last point where humans interface with technology with services with systems is always human. And I think the emergence of user center design, user experience design is reminding us of the need to make sure those touch points have a humane and empathic experience.

[00:22:03] Host (Adrian): That's really interesting. You've just got me thinking that we always think about everything being human first and perhaps that's why we're afraid of the robots taking over and them putting themselves first. And because before, humans were thinking about the impact they were having on the rest of the world, we were just part of the ecosystem.

[00:22:24] It's a need to go back to working as an ecosystem rather than human first.

[00:22:29] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Indeed, because when the Luddites or the E-Luddites in this day and age first saw computers, they panicked. They thought computers were going to take over their jobs. And now, beyond just desktop or publishing, which was what it was used for. Now, we are doing amazing things you know, like CAD CAM, where I can design something here and send it off to China and it's produced there or vice versa.

[00:22:53] So, instead of the computer taking away the job, it actually has an empowered me and given me even more capability to do more, faster and better. So, I'm hoping in the same way. Of course, there are ethical conundrums that have to be addressed because the new challenges are usually of a social-ethical nature. But as people who use deploy and employ technology constantly, I'm excited. I think the future boards well for designers, but they also need to make sure they don't relinquish their responsibility because that robot still needs a human programmer. And what you

put in is what you get out, you know, like what they say, garbage in garbage out, et cetera.

[00:23:34] So, the ethical conundrums have to be resolved before we even start programming. We have to decide ahead of time. For example, you find drones. An excellent example. Drones are being used in places like Rwanda to deliver critical medication and blood for transfusion. But in some other part of the world, drones have been weaponized.

[00:23:53] So, what has really changed there is the human intervention and what the intention was otherwise the drone is happy to do whatever it's told to do. It's us humans who need to take responsibility for how we deploy technology.

[00:24:07] Host (Adrian): And I've heard you quote Victor Papanek before

[00:24:12] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Yes.

[00:24:12] Host (Adrian): for the real world, few professions more harmful than industrial design.

[00:24:18] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Yeah, he says there're other professions but there are very few and he says industrial designers need to take responsibility for designing things that have maimed and hurt humanity. And that was back in 1972. And 1985, Victor Papanek wrote a second book where he spoke about the green imperative. And his focus was on sustainability.

[00:24:38] So, as designers we must take a social responsibility for our actions. We can no longer hide behind the shadowy client and say, I designed something because a client paid me and asked me to design it. I have to take responsibility for anyone who comes into contact with my design willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly.

[00:24:58] It's a huge responsibility but also it makes us truly human and so I celebrate the fact that if I meet someone using my product, I have no disclaimers to make because I should have thought through all those instances. So, this is where design

thinking comes in because when you test prototypes with real people in real contexts then you're able to ascertain some of the potential use and misuse and abuse scenarios, which you cannot do just by sitting as a designer and just coming up with your own interpretation of a good design.

Future of design with AI

[00:25:31] Host (Adrian): We've been playing around with the open AI, DALL·E 2 beta, and Midjourney, and NVIDIA canvas, and a few others as well. Especially after what you've just said, what are the implications for the future of design then with artificial intelligence and perhaps us being even more disconnected from these tools and the


[00:25:53] Mugendi M'Rithaa: I think, Adrian, we have to engage more with focus groups, user trialing in which we use the products or even the prototypes within real environment, not simulated environments. There's a danger that if you look at computers and use computers for designing products, say the automobile, for example. You key in all the parameters and you say, I want a drag coefficient of around 0.29. The shape usually is more or less the same, but still, there's an element of aesthetics, there's an element of the human interaction that shape is not going to define. So, the role of designers, I believe actually has become more critical because the tools on their own can come up with possible iterations of an idea but the last detail, you know, of what I touch, what I see, what I hear or experience is still a human being's responsibility. So, it's just shifted our role from just being technicians in

the sense of you know, making and fixing things to being, curators or even choreographers of bringing things together in a way that makes harmony.

[00:27:00] So, it's almost like saying we've got different parts of an orchestra. And the role of the designer is very much like the conductor now, where you say how much of the cello do we need and how much of a violin or the saxophone or whatever we are dealing with. And we cannot say that just because someone is a virtuoso drummer, he can take over and do all the drumming.

[00:27:20] And we are good. That's not an orchestra. One instrument will not make it an orchestra. So, we still need to do all that choreography and the complexity of the tools and the attributes we need to accumulate as designers has become richer, but that's

part of what being human is. So, it's exciting in that sense.

[00:27:37] But it's going to be obviously a lot more demanding of us so that we take responsibility for the products or the experiences, systems, and services we come up with as designers.

[00:27:47] Host (Adrian): Mm, that was the last question that I had lined up, and if you've got any other thoughts or stories or anything else that you'd like to share on the podcast with the community?

[00:27:59] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Yeah, thank you. Well, I call it the Wakanda effect. And this is the Black Panther franchise, I hear the next one Wakanda forever is coming out soon. And I'd like us to go beyond just being entertained for a day as Africans and say, wow, that was beautiful. The what if we ask usually in design thinking, that's usually the speculative element.

[00:28:21] So, as designers let's think about what if we could redesign our society. What if we could redesign our communities? What is the role of the designer in a 21st-century, African city or African country? What if we could redesign our education? What is the role of designers and design thinking in coming up with education systems that still offer educational quality whilst deploying technologies and tools of the 21st century and even possibly anticipating the future.

[00:28:52] So, I'd like to challenge us as designers not to settle. Let's not start to get too comfortable just because now everyone's saying, eh, Africa is rising, African designers come of age. Let's now move from saying we are among the others and start to develop our creative confidence to the point where it becomes creative leadership.

[00:29:13] So, from creative confidence which is where we are moving into now to say, Africa is as good as everyone else to now creative leadership, where you can actually pinpoint to trends that have been championed by Africans and others are now taking a note and saying, wow, that’s something that we need to also explore.

[00:29:31] So, let Africa take its place in the world but grow that creative confidence into creative leadership. And let's see where Africa will go. I'm excited about the future. I believe Nairobi design week is the Vanguard of that new way, that confident Africa that is now starting to be taken very seriously by the rest of the world.

[00:29:50] And I hope to play my part, even if as a godfather of design or whatever, you know, a family friend who is available to support the cause having been there for the last couple of decades. But I can see that the trajectory going forward is no longer

apologetic. Africa does not need to be validated by the world anymore.

[00:30:10] Africa has arrived but now we need to start to lead creatively. And that's the space that I'd like to challenge our design communities to take up.

[00:30:19] Host (Adrian): Thank you so much. It's been a conversation where we've gone everywhere. So, thank you. Thank you. That's a wrap.

[00:30:25] Mugendi M'Rithaa: Thank you.

[00:30:26] Hosts (Adrian/Naitiemu): This episode with Professor Mugendi took us in a nice, full circle as Richie Moalosi, Omagano Kankondi and a few of our other guests have mentioned his work and paid homage to his support. To check out previous episodes, head to the map on the website, afrika.design.

[00:30:44] Or find us on any podcast app, and please share this with anyone who would benefit from hearing the conversation.

[00:30:51] If you have any ideas for episodes we should do, people we should host on the show, please let us know. We're really, really interested in hearing your thoughts. And if you've made it this far, a review would mean so much to us as well on whichever

platform you are listening to us on.

[00:31:09] We hope to get these stories out there to more people. I'm Adrian Jankowiak. This episode was edited by David King'ori with music by Ngalah and Mercy Barno. Thank you for tuning in to Afrika Design.

Our next stop: Kenya. This episode took us in a nice full circle, with Prof. Mugendi K. M’Rithaa, who has been mentioned by several guests on the podcast. Prof. Mugendi K. M’Rithaa is a transdisciplinary industrial designer, consultant, educator, and researcher currently teaching at Machakos University, Kenya.

He’s also the President Emeritus and Convenor of the Senate of the World Design Organization (WDO). He has a special interest in the pivotal role of design thinking in advancing the developmental agenda on the African continent.

In this episode, he expounds on the co-creation of a new narrative of an emerging Africa. We talk about everything design from AI, Industrial Design, traditions, Afrika with a ‘K’, and how we can move away from a Euro-Centric view of Africa to finally embrace our identities and our uniqueness through a sense of ownership in our designs, culture, and traditions.

LinkedInMugendi K. M’Rithaa

Episode Credits

Produced by Nairobi Design

**Host: **Adrian Jankowiak

Producer, Shorts & Artwork: David King'ori

Music: Ngalah Oreyo (@ngalah_oreyo) and Mercy Barno (@merc.b_)