Akuko: using colorful socks to tell personal stories

Using socks to tell personal stories. This is not something you will hear on a normal day. But this indeed is something that Arinze Prosper Emegoakor is doing in Sweden with his Akuko brand.

“In Sweden, we show our socks,” notes the Nigerian. Born in eastern Nigeria,  Emegoakor has lived half of his life outside of Africa, with the last 10 years in Malmö, Sweden’s second largest city. 

“Socks are common . Everybody owns them. It can be used to express ourselves, to tell stories.” 
He notes that he has had a love for socks, especially the colorful ones, for a long time, and whenever he is asked why he chooses those kinds, he then begins to tell a story.
So he came up with the idea that he will use his socks to tell his personal story, the journey of his life. And will invite others to do the same.
With the colorful bamboo socks, Emegoakor wants to raise consciousness about African culture outside of the continent and empower the African diaspora. 

“Socks are a simple and practical way to express your identity. I’ve always received comments about my colorful socks. Finally I started thinking, what if I could convert each time someone comments on my socks to a moment of enlightenment? What if my socks could function as a conversation starter? What if hundreds or thousands more would do the same? Socks are something every person uses.”
He started with his own culture, the igbo culture from eastern Nigeria, using a  musical instrument called ogene as inspiration for the first collection. The ogene is traditionally used by the town crier to call the villagers together.
“With the help of the ogene we call the people to our digital platform to have these conversations. Akụkọ means “story” in igbo. My idea is using socks as a tool for storytelling to raise the consciousness about our culture, to connect to our roots and to each other. 
“We want to tell African stories, as conversations start, we are going to touch the lives of others,  And that is the purpose of his Ogene connection. It is a platform to get people together.

Emegoakor is using colorful socks to tell his story and encourage others to tell theirs
Photo: Andrew Mulumba

“African stories have too long been told by others. It has created an image we don’t recognize ourselves in, and we are mirrored and judged towards that when we are here.
“It’s time we use our own voices and tell our own stories. Together we will create a more complete image of ourselves and of the multifaceted continent Africa is and always has been.”
For the first collection, Akụkọ is taking help from the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, who shortly after launching selected the campaign as one of the projects they love.
With 13 days left for the campaign, about 60% of the target of $10, 000 (SEK 100, 000), has been reached. 
“It all comes down to creating community and that’s why we are inviting everyone who shares our vision to create Akụkọ together with us,” Emegoakor asserts.