The inspiration for this print comes from Ethiopia. We first saw him at Mercato. As we were drawn into the hustle and bustle of the market, there were many things that amazed us, but it was the strength and prowess of Mattress Man that left us speechless. He seamlessly weaved through people, cars and kombis with his heavy load. There were not three, not four but 15 mattresses – double mattresses! – piled high on his head. He swayed from left to right, but he didn’t drop a single one.
His superhuman strength left us in awe, but nobody else batted an eyelid. We didn’t yet know that the strength lay not only in him, but in the people of Ethiopia. As we headed north to Lalibela, we saw, amongst the beautiful wonders of the country, more powerful beings beyond measure: women – tiny in frame but Herculean in strength – walking up mountains with heavy logs on their backs and balancing bales of hay on their crowns.
We bore witness to Africans’ power, resourcefulness, resilience, pride, and leadership.