Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Siwatu Jewelry - Afrocentric symbols of love

Published:Monday | February 27, 2017 | 2:00 AMTickoya Joseph
Sentwali is comfortable in her 'African' skin and her sterling silver necklace and earrings.
The creative couple sporting bright smiles and their his and hers bracelets.
Each piece of Siwatu is made with passion and love.
In less than an hour, Sentwali presented the Flair with a custom sterling silver ring.
Custom unisex rings made from copper and sterling silver
The creative genius at work.
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Three years ago, Ashenafi Abayomi left his corporate job never to return.

Walking away from what is seen as the norm, opened up endless possibilities, giving birth to Siwatu Jewelry.

Once simply a hobby for Sentwali, his wife, jewellery making became the couple's bread and butter. "We just went to the hardware store and bought $1,000 worth of copper wire," they told Flair of how the journey started.

As with any new business, it was a gamble, one which Sentwali's mother was a bit nervous about. However, Ashenafi said proudly that with each obstacle and milestone they overcame, they got a bit more confident.

The couple's passion for their heritage comes from their parents. Ashenafi is a child of the Rastafarian community - his father was an executive member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, so he was taught about repatriation and going back to the motherland.

Sentwali, told Flair she did not understand why persons laughed at her name or thought it strange. Both her parents had African names, and taught her about black leaders and black culture as they wanted her to recognise where she came from. The Abayomis have a strong sense of self and believe that what you are called is more than just a name - it defines and shapes the individual. "Every time someone calls me, I am reminded that my name means the brave one, and I try to live up to the name," said Sentwali.

Her husband shares her views that a name is very important in knowing oneself, and where they are coming from, and that is why he changed his name from Gary Davis.

Jewellery making is not merely means of survival for the couple. Being deeply rooted in their history, the couple is seeking to educate persons on African culture through their craft. Using copper, brass, and sterling silver, they have conceptualised and crafted simply majestic pieces. Each piece is handmade with passion and love, resulting in light, ready-to-wear accessories with heavy sentiments of pride and strength.

Siwatu pieces are not necessarily regular hearts and butterflies, but are bits and pieces of Africa, and by extension, Jamaica, such as maps and cultural symbols. Even though customers can make specialised orders, the love birds say their focus is on love, African culture, and creativity. "We are phasing out the commercial and cliche pieces." Sentwali shared with Flair.

Not just a job, the young entrepreneurs want to make people aware of the fact that the Africans were not just slaves who fought for their rights, they were more than that before and even more after slavery. And so, they are building awareness and strength one symbol at a time.