Introducing Mbu: Celebrating the Unseen Powerhouses of Africa

IMBUU Collective
3 min readJun 30, 2023

African women of the past are usually anonymous but were active powerhouses and the bedrock of our societies.

Still from Ousmane Sembene’s Black Girl, 1966.

In the rich tapestry of history, the remarkable contributions of African women often go unnoticed, despite their pivotal roles as the foundation of our societies. One of such extraordinary figure is Florence Mbu, an ljaw woman hailing from Kirike, born in the 1940s amidst the vibrant Oil Rivers protectorate, now known as the Niger Delta region in Southern Nigeria.

Florence’s journey began amidst a society that deemed education essential solely for males, relegating women to the confines of the kitchen and marriage. Despite these societal constraints and limited resources, she found solace in the kitchen, forming deep connections with her mother.

“You take the most damaged part of your psyche, and you use it for good.” — JUDD APATOW

Grief looks different on everyone.

Things changed for Mbu when she lost her husband in her thirties. Undeterred by adversity, she fearlessly shouldered the responsibility of raising her eight children alone. With unwavering determination, she embarked on a remarkable entrepreneurial endeavour, selling food to her community from a simple wheelbarrow.

In the bustling streets of Ogbogbo, tales of “the food merchant” still echo, where long queues of school children would eagerly await her iconic rice and beans outside the Orupabo compound.

IMBUU is a brand that seeks to honour the resilient lineage that Florence Mbu cultivated, an ode to the untold stories of countless remarkable African women who have shaped our world.

Still from Moussa Sene Absa’s Madame Brouette, 2002.

“Go on and be all we couldn’t be…”

It is not a narrative of victimhood or suffering, but a story of what happens when you motivate a generation to go on and be all you couldn’t be. It is a powerful testament to the enduring power of womanhood and the profound impact one woman can have on her community and the world at large.

Still from Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Hyenas, 1992.

Our brand story emerges from love, community, and a profound connection to our identity. IMBUU is a collective of storytellers, committed to sharing narratives that often go unnoticed in mainstream media. We aim to give voice to the marginalised and tell stories that are not commonly heard.

A remarkable individual graces our brand’s essence — Florence Mbu, who stands as an immortalised symbol of our ethos.

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IMBUU Collective

A multimedia production company with a focus on film, podcast production, creative & feature writing, telling stories that reform our collective mind.