Updates: “Mambu/o Badu/o?” & Borders

“Mambo Badu” vs. “Mambu Badu”

There have been some murmurs about “Mambo Bado” vs. “Mambu Badu.”  We like public discourse and so In the spirit of transparency, humility, and growth we are writing to share how we arrived at our collective’s name.

First, in dreaming up this project we explored many variations in the hopes of finding a name that would encapsulate what we hope to represent as well as provide space for future growth.  Some names were too finite and acronyms left us breathless and bothered.  We finally came to the phrase “Mambu Badu.”  We liked the way is rolled off our tongues, we loved the cadence.  As some have pointed out, “Mambu Badu” is not proper KiSwahili spelling.  In our research process with a Swahili speaker, there was confusion over whether we should go with “Mambo Bado” or “Mambu Badu.”  We chose to push forward with “Mambu Badu” and provide the clarifying note, “‘Mambu Badu’ is an adaptation of the KiSwahili phrase ‘Mambo Bado’ which is loosely translated as ‘the best has yet to come.'”  In doing this, we recognize the fluidity of language as well as the importance of paying homage to the more formal rendering of the phrase.  As we stated, we dwell in this wonderful place of possibility and we hope that you will dwell and dance in this space with us.  Whether we spell it “Mambo Bado” or adapt it to “Mambu Badu,” the spirit of our collective is the same.

“Women of the Diaspora”

We also want to be more reflective about the imaginary boundaries we drew when we formed this collective.

In thinking more openly about boundaries, borders, and belonging, we want to open up this collective to women of the African Diaspora irrespective of geographic location.  We originally envisioned this as an experiment in collective building amongst Black women in America. However, we don’t want to imagine the work of Black female photographers as limited to America especially when exploring the theme of “memory.”  Humility is about taking a step back so that we can move forward.  As such, we are humbly inviting Black women of the diaspora to contribute and join in our efforts.  Women who identify as Black in Australia, Brazil, Senegal, anywhere…please join us.


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