Yswara takes its name, its agro-ecological approach to ingredients and its community development stance from the great Tywara deity as venerated by my mother’s West African matrilineal ancestors. In their masks and rituals I find stimulus for a cultural creativity that stretches across time and space.
— Swaady
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The Tyi Wara - born from the union of the sky goddess Mousso Koroni and an earth spirit - is a composite of three highly symbolic animals: the antelope, the aardvark and the pangolin.
 
The antelope represent grace and strength while the pangolin and the aardvark represent determination and conscientiousness.

TYWARA + SWAADY = YSWARA

We take our name from and find our ultimate inspiration in the West African Bambara Tywara deity, the beautiful and powerful mythological hero who came to earth to teach mankind social values and agricultural techniques. Our founder, Swaady Martin – from whom the S in Yswara  is drawn – draws inspiration from the essence of this magnificent legend. 

 
We see ourselves as part of a community committed to the greater good, recognising interdependence and mutual respect as the essence of humanity. Tywara guides the way.
 
 

The legend of the Tywara

Humanity was roaming and restlessness in an endless void of unknowing. Each individual was lonely and alone. Then out of the emptiness stepped the Tywara. Simultaneously man, woman, beast and God this life-force embraced the aimless, solitary darkness and brought forth light, purpose and community. Male and female were unified into families. Families were steered towards villages. The Tywara stretched out a human hand and caught rain. Its antelope horns dug deep into the rich earth to till land. Ploughing and planting flourished under the guidance of this great spirit. Crops grew to abundance in the warm glow of the Tywara’s strength. So it was that human society was created out of confusion.

Life was good - so good that humanity forgot about the emptiness of unknowing and the pain of solitude. Gradually villagers became lazy and arrogant. They fought and refused to work together. Each individual stole from all others and suspicion thwarted the togetherness that had once made bonded and boosted communities.

The Tywara was deeply disappointed by the failures of humanity. In grief its essence turned away and retreated to the heavens. The rainfall stopped, the rivers dried up and the famine began. Then the Bambara were sorry for their shortcomings. They called upon Tywara to rescue them from their plight. They danced and made masks to venerate its horned majesty. They taught their children the value of cooperation and kindness. Gradually Tywara relented.

Since then, the Bambara have come together as a unified community at every planting season and at every harvest. They call upon the spirit of Tywara to bless all their endeavours. With the Tywara ancient and modern exist as a circle of life and art. Such is our inspiration at Yswara.