A 21-year-old from the Ivory Coast, O’Plerou Grebet is the talk of town now after creating African- inspired emojis in a bid to promote West African Culture.
He has so far created more than 350 downloadable emojis with West African cultural references.
According to reports, Grebet started making emojis with Africans in mind and launched Zouzoukwa, meaning “image” in the Bété language.
In an interview with BBC, he narrated his inspiration behind his venture.
“Basically, my idea was to create emojis so Africans can have emojis they can relate to,” he explained to BBC.
According to him, the idea struck him suddenly while he was conversing with a friend on WhatsApp.
“Seeing all the smileys embedded in the application, I thought that I was missing an emoji to describe our Ivorian realities, to make our jokes,” he recalled to French publication Le Mondein 2018. “And I thought I could create it myself!”
The images include an array of popular food dishes in West Africa and black people making faces typically used by Africans.
“Everything I see around me, on a daily basis, inspires me,” he said. “I draw for a very long time, alone in my room, first on paper and then on the Photoshop software.”
When he shared the first image, a plate of cassava and plantain on Instagram, it received over 1,000 likes. So far, he’s won two awards for his work.
“The next step for me, after Zouzoukwa, is to learn about 3D and virtual reality, in order to create filters and find a new way to pay tribute to the African culture,” he said.
The rising tech entrepreneur won the Young Talent Award at the Africa Digital Communication Days back in March this year.
He says his parents gave him the creative freedom to “let him follow his passion” which ultimately led to Zouzoukwa.