“Panos Tingidos” the ethics of a new West African brand Adding cultural value to the textile industry of Guinea Bissau.

Guinea-Bissau is a country made up of a diverse ethnic and cultural mosaic. Dyeing fabrics through Batik is a traditional cultural activity carried out for centuries in the country, and closely identified with the Soninké (or Saraculés) people of Guinea-Bissau .

Historic estimates indicate that this traditional method of dyeing fabrics was practiced in Guinea-Bissau by 600 families in the East (Bafata and Gabu regions) and north (Oio region). However the district of Ponte Nova, in the city of Bafatá is where more than half the fabric dyers in the country had been concentrated.

By the 1960s, the District of Ponte Nova was considered the largest center for fabric dye in West Africa, supplying the markets of Senegal, Gambia and Guinea-Conakry. However activity began to decline at the beginning of the 1990s as the major suppliers of raw material for dyeing fabrics abandon the business. As a direct consequence the Soninkés of Ponte Nova underwent a process of temporary migration. Despite this, and the lack of profitability, the tradition of fabric dyeing remained a core element of cultural identity and the main source of income for the Soninkés.

In 2010 the “Thossan Soninké” project was launched with the goal of revitalizing the local industry in Ponta Nova and thus enabling those who had emigrated to return. So far the project has been extremely successful, supporting the 300 local artisans of the Women’s Association in Ponte Nova, and a commercial partnership for promotion with the brand BIBAS.

The project has also begun to diversify, adding an interiors and a clothing collection to the portfolio which combine an exciting mixture of Soninke and contemporary designs, targeted at the European market. These collections were presented for the first time in Bissau in 2015 and met with an extremely positive response from all those attending as the Secretary of Culture and the Embassador of the EU in Guinea Bissau. In addition a number of inquiries for further sales and distribution have also been made.

The result of the work so far is the creation of a new brand: “Panos Tingidos” A brand that combines social and ethical responsibility, and adds significant cultural value to the textile industry of Guinea Bissau.
The “Panos Tingidos” brand is a creation of the Women’s Association of Ponte Nova and is supported by the EU Delegation in Guinea Bissau.

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