"Unity Shirts aims to unite the African Diaspora by instilling pride about where we individually and collectively come from and providing a platform where we can educate each other about our differences. We also want to emphasis the importance of travel as the best way we can learn about each other. Are you from Nigeria? Swap your ticket to Thailand for one to Tanzania!"
My name is Ruba and I am the founder of Unity Shirts. I founded Unity Shirts in 2016 after I came back from studying abroad in Tanzania. That was the first time I had been back to Africa since 2008.
I am originally from Sudan and my most vivid and happiest memories were of me running barefoot down the sandy street, sitting inside listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops on the zink ceiling in the dark because the power was out, growing watermelons in our backyard (along with lemons, pomegranates and guavas), and drinking cold water from a zeer.
Of course, those things can be done in any part of the world, and these are merely childhood memories. But my love for Sudan soon transformed into a love for Africa the more I learned about the continent. I remember spending hours looking over the African map, memorizing each country and its location. I read about ancient kingdoms, ethnic groups, histories; I always wore Africa close to my heart.
The continent has always been intertwined into my life. I studied African Studies, I studied abroad in Africa (Tanzania), I volunteered in Africa (Ghana and Uganda), I worked and lived in Africa (Lesotho). It is in Africa that I feel more myself. It is in Africa that I feel most at peace.
Now, my love has transformed to encompass the entire diaspora, because we all are connected. You might wonder how I can fall in love with a whole continent and her diaspora. And you’re right to be skeptical because over-generalizing and romanticizing 54 countries with 1.4 billion unique people on the continent and diaspora is not ideal. And I don’t mean to. I am in love with what I have yet to learn about the continent her people and her diaspora and I’m excited to share as much as I can with everyone I know.
Whether it’s through travel, books, food dance or music, I ask you to join me in the journey of knowledge and in the job of breaking misconceptions. Each shirt represents a commitment to a continuation of that knowledge, a showcase of pride and a belief in the uniqueness of the African Diaspora.