How many times do you use emojis on your phone? If you’re like most Kenyans, you probably find yourself changing the color of certain emojis to match the melanin. Well, thanks to this Ivorian designer, now you don’t have to! Graphic design student O’Plerou Grebet is now giving the African touch to traditional phone emojis.
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#Zouzoukwa N°362 : Séga 🇲🇺 _ "Le séga tipik mauricien traditionnel est un art du spectacle très dynamique, emblématique de la communauté créole ou pratiqué lors d’événements familiaux informels ainsi que dans des lieux publics. Les chansons, chantées dans une tonalité mineure, augmentent progressivement de rythme, tandis que les danseurs bougent les hanches et les mains au rythme des percussions, en faisant des petits pas pour évoluer les uns autour des autres en formation variée. " – Unesco.org
This 22-year old got his inspiration from seeing how traditional emojis had a strong Western influence. This influence was apparent every time that he chatted with his friends and they shared a smiley face or kissy face emoji. However, the Ivorian designer was shocked to realize that there were no symbols that he could truly relate with. That’s when he got the idea to give emojis an African touch by creating ones that are symbols of history and culture in the Ivory Coast and all over Africa.
Some of his emoji designs included traditional masks and African instruments, people dressed in African designs and fabric, as well as everyday objects such as cans of soda and popular sweets. In addition, the Ivorian designer has also created a series of facial expressions emojis that all Africans can relate to. These include a woman with pursed lips giving the side-eye, and a man pulling down an eyelid with his index finger –which means ‘I told you so’ in Ivory Coast. When asked about these emoji designs, O’Plerou Grebet said that he was trying to capture expressions used in real life that are not represented in phones.
Grebet’s success led to him releasing a free pack of over 360 stickers to be used as emojis in 2018. He did this through a mobile app called “Zouzoukwa,” which means “image” in the local Bété language. This app is available on Android and iPhone and has been downloaded more than 120,000 times so far. The Ivorian designer hopes to get his emojis approved for the official emoji set which is used by people all over the world. For now, he wants to travel and study other African cultures which will help him to add more emojis to his collection.
Featured Image Courtesy: NPR