The first ever Afro-inspired Christmas market is coming to Dublin this year 1 week ago

The first ever Afro-inspired Christmas market is coming to Dublin this year

The Umoja Linn market is the first of its kind in Ireland.

With each passing Christmas, we've become more aware of the importance of shopping local and supporting smaller businesses, and thankfully, it's never been easier to do exactly that.

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If you are looking for a super unique gift for a special someone in your life, you might just find it at Dublin's first ever Afro-inspired Christmas market.

The Umoja Linn market is the brainchild of African-Irish entrepreneurs China Soribe and Meneliswa McDonald, who founded their enterprise in order to empower Ireland's African fashion scene. This December, they've teamed up with EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum, to bring an African-inspired market to Ireland's capital.

The Umoja Linn Christmas market will run from 17-18 December at the CHQ building at the EPIC museum, and it will "showcase Afro-inspired designers and entrepreneurs while helping Christmas shoppers find high quality and unique products".

Speaking ahead of the market's launch, China and Meneliswa said: "Having had a successful Market in June at the Fumbally Stables, we look forward to making this Market an even better experience."

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We caught up with China and Meneliswa earlier this year, and they spoke about how their company's name embodies their mission. In Swahili, Umoja translates to 'unity', while Linn is the Irish for 'by us'.

"The name is a celebration of our Afro-Irish roots," China and Meneliswa tell Her. "It represents our mission to unite and empower Afro-inspired designers, helping them monetise their talent and grow their reach one item at a time."

China's family moved to Tullamore, Offaly from Nigeria in 2007, and fashion is one of the channels through which she celebrates her identity.

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"I had developed a deep love for my motherland, and portrayed this in my new life in Ireland," she says. "I like to think that I'm perfecting the fusion of both my Nigerian roots and my Irish associations - a cultural hybrid if you've ever met one."

Meneliswa, similarly, wanted to celebrate her Zulu heritage through fashion after moving to Ireland in 2007.

"I love Afro-centric Fashion, and as I was growing up in Ireland, I would design items to incorporate my Zulu culture into my everyday wear and style, but I really just wished there were more Afro-inspired fashion designers," she says. "Now I get the joy of working with them on a daily basis and introducing Irish consumers to their incredible pieces."

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