Editorial, Africa Review Journal

  • Samuel M Maina University of Nairobi


With our last edition in volume three titled “African visual design in the digital world”, we hope to have ignited your passion for design and its extraordinary potential to shape our world. In this fourth issue of volume one, we immersed ourselves into a broad plethora of diverse angles of approach to the creative industry. Interestingly, the journey we embarked on has taken us through uncharted territories, pushed boundaries, fostered connections, embraced sustainability, and celebrated the fusion of art and technology. The call for papers yielded a good number of papers. The five contained in this issue went through peer review on time to meet the strict deadlines agreed upon among peers and our erudite referees. The five has shown us that design is not just an aesthetic pursuit; it is a force that has the power to improve lives, inspire change, and create a future that is both beautiful and functional.  And the following is how our astute researchers accomplished their studies. They looked at design thinking, ceramic glazes, community-based conservation, design aiding autism, and sustainability in women’s crafts.
Marketers are a clever lot. They seek to make you purchase what may not necessarily need. It is therefore imperative that to sell, producers must understand the needs and expectations of their target consumers. Owano and Baya in their paper describe this approach is as consumer-centrism. From their data in the paper titled “design thinking as a consumer-centric approach in a segmented market,” they advance that this approach is similar to Design Thinking, a process that demands rethinking the creative process to incorporate co-creation and end-user engagement.  Their research led to the conclusion that with a thorough application of design thinking in marketing, it is expected that the brand equity and loyalty of the redesigned publicity materials will enable the millennials and centennials to be more responsive to the institution and the services it offers.
The paper by Ahami and Ngondo reports on the best way to learn about the formulation of ceramic glazes. In their findings, they posit that it is to have the ingredients used in their manufacture tested. They titled their paper “Formulation of new ceramic glazes: test results of rock material found in Eastern Uganda”. Their objective was to report the test results of glaze formulation experiments done on selected natural materials found in the Mukono and Jinja districts of Eastern Uganda. The content of their paper presents the aesthetic and functional qualities of the fired glazed test bars that had been constituted with different rock samples and fired at different temperatures. In their findings, it was established that with higher temperatures, the glazes appeared to have a better shine and gloss finish as opposed to their aesthetic look when fired at a lower temperature.
You would imagine that design has nothing to do with a disease like autism. This is because the praxis between design and medicine sounds farfetched. Far from the truth, design has a huge role to play in the solutions to this debilitating problem. In Kenya, the disorder affects approximately four percent of the population according to a 2007 Autism Society of Kenya estimation. In their paper “ Art and design aiding children living with autism in Nairobi” Owour and Maina sought to whether the condition impairs the communication process between the children faced with Autism and their families and friends.
They therefore explored the possibilities of emotional design in aiding communication and therapeutics for children living with autism. Among their findings indicated the suitable characteristics of the design products to be used to include colour, texture, and balance. In regard to the proposed emotional design products, the study recommended consideration of sensory issues, the Creation of clear visual cues, consideration of safety, and the use of simple and clear language to create calm and quiet environments.
Conservation of environment, life, and wildlife is a hot issue especially now that it has been connected to global warming and its effects. Mwangi, Maina, and Munene looked into these issues in their paper titled “Participatory Action Research (PAR) for Community-Based Conservation in Kenya”. They engaged all the available community members at all stages of planning conservation projects through active participatory approaches. While doing so, they assessed the level of participation in conservation programs by analyzing gender, age, and other social factors that may enhance or hinder the active participation of community members in sustainable community-based conservation. In their findings, a major result was to ensure equitable, inclusive, effective and gender-responsive representation and participation in decision-making and access to justice and information related to biodiversity by indigenous peoples and local communities.
Designers have been part of the women’s programs through the extension of their services at different phases of the production process. This is done by codesigning and collaborating with the women in production. This was established by Colleta, Osanjo, and Odundo in their study titled “Design Intervention for sustainability in Women’s crafts in Kenya”. The trio explored the design interventions in women’s crafts and how they can be utilized for more economically sustainable crafts practice.
They recommended that design interventions are indispensable in improving knowledge and skills and technical design input necessary to trigger the creativity of the artisans while motivating them through co-designing to boost their self-confidence.  From the foregoing, it is evident that design is at the center stage of innovation and development. Let us continue to explore, innovate, and unleash our creative excellence, ensuring that design remains at the forefront of human progress.
Samuel Mwituria Maina PhD, PDr, OGW
Editor in chief