Marly is a creative young Angolan who runs her own sewing business, Afro Imbambas, from her bedroom, where she cuts, sews, photographs and sells her handmade accessories. All of the accessories are made from African fabrics, and are items typically used in Angola.
Marly has also been involved in teaching Angolan dance in Portugal and other countries. Dance is integral to Angolan culture and she sees this is a good opportunity to "teach the culture, to show our influence, show the way that we move”.
“I can not live without going to Angola. I am already investing in my country and helping somehow, that way I can always go there.”
Marly came to live in Portugal at the age of two with her mother and even though she has lived most of her life in Portugal, maintaining her connection to Angola is fundamental. “I can not live without going to Angola. I am already investing in my country and helping somehow, that way I can always go there.” When in Angola, Marly enjoys visiting her family, the hot weather, the warmth of the people, the culture, the dance environment and being able to buy natural things. “A lot of things there are still really natural. You go to the beach to buy fish. Here it is harder to do that and have that experience.”
"It is a process that gets you involved with the culture, with the people who are living there. I would like to work in more ways to do that, to help those people.”
Afro Imbambas allows Marly to connect to her Angolan heritage in many ways, from making accessories that are typically used in Angola, to buying the fabrics in Angola. "Every time I have the opportunity I want to go there. I need to buy the materials, so that way it is also a good excuse to go back. Somehow I feel that even with this, I am helping with the economy. It already happened to me that I went to one place to buy fabrics, on the street, the lady told me ‘that was awesome that you bought from us because it is the first thing that I sell today’. I bought a lot of fabrics. For me it was not so expensive, but for her it was a big quality of money for her that day. It is a process that gets you involved with the culture, with the people who are living there. I would like to work in more ways to do that, to help those people.”
Marly is also collaborating with people who make or sell things that are from Africa, for example, fabrics, food, accessories. “With my small contribution, I try to help somehow. At this moment you can not go to the markets and sell, you can not go to the festivals, you can not show your things in a physical way you know, but you have the internet. Most people are a little bit afraid to use the internet to sell their products. So for now, with my small knowledge, I’m trying to help them also, to get some vision, to improve themselves, how to show their products. For their products go to further. I talk with people no matter where they are. People that are working with something from Africa.”
"My head has space for everybody, you earn a lot when you give."
Marly has many dreams for Afro Imbambas. She would like to open a store where she could sell fabrics, accessories and hold sewing classes. Marly would also like to collaborate with other artisans. “I want to do this for the PALOPS (people from Portuguese-speaking African countries). I think I’m quite stubborn, I just don’t have money. But if I had the money, I would be already doing everything. But for now I just have the ideas and if I am also able to have ideas that will help others it would be really really good. This is also my target, to help another ones. I feel that in this area, these handicrafts, people don’t work too much together. For me it is really normal. For example, if I don’t have one thing in my store but I know another person has it in their store. My head has space for everybody, you earn a lot when you give. I feel that in Africa the people are really like this…we can work for the same purpose.”