What’s Kenyan about the First Made in Kenya Running Shoes?
Making running shoes in Kenya, a first in the country, we knew that we had to make shoes that espoused running excellence. Kenya is globally renowned as the home of running champions, and so a Kenyan running shoe had to hold true to that tradition.
But we wanted to do more than just make a shoe that was great for running. We wanted to create a shoe that told the story of Kenya to the world.
Our debut running shoe, the Enda Iten, is a lightweight trainer with a 4mm heel to toe drop that is perfect for shorter runs. It also features elements from Kenyan history and culture, some of them quite visible but others are not so conspicuous. Here are the little bits of Kenyan culture you’ll find on the shoe.
The name: Iten
To start with, the name — Iten — comes from a small town in the Rift Valley called Iten. It is home to a good number of Olympic medalists and major marathon champions like Edna Kiplagat, David Rudisha, Mary Keitany just to name but a few. Hundreds of international runners — including Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe — also flock to Iten to train and have a feel of what it is like to run like a Kenyan. It is on the background of such a small but equally important place, that we named our debut shoe — the Enda Iten.
The colours: Colours of the Kenyan Flag
The Enda Itens currently come in a variety of 3 colours — black, red and green. These are the three main colours that you will find on the Kenyan Flag. Black represents the indigenous people of Kenya. Red is for the blood that was shed while fighting for the Independence of Kenya while green pays tribute to the country’s rich agricultural landscape and natural resources. The white sole is for the white colour between the three main colours, which stands for peace.
Our logo: A spear
Embedded on the outer side of each shoe is the tip of a spear. This is the Enda logo whose design is based on the tip of a spear. The spear features not just the flag but also on Kenya’s coat of arms. The spear is also mentioned in the Elder of the Burning Spear which is the highest honour that an individual can receive in Kenya.
The spear is a sign of strength against all odds. It’s a symbol of pride that illuminates the size of the fight in you. A spear, when in motion, is straight, swift and fluid. It is a representation of speed, action and forward progression. Qualities that Enda hopes to emulate.
The motto: Harambee
On the sole at the bottom of the shoes is the word “Harambee”. Harambee is a Swahili word that means “all pull together” which refers to moments when people come together to accomplish a task that one person would not. It is also the official motto of Kenya.
Enda was built on the Spirit of Harambee where friends, family and people who believed in the vision of creating a world-class running shoe pulled their minds and resources to make it happen through Kickstarter campaign. It’s also in the same spirit of Harambee that we launched the Enda Community Foundation, which brings together a global community of Enda runners to help us decide which local projects in Kenya we should support.
Harambee also gives a name to something, hopefully, every runner has experienced. That sense that the best running is done with others. Running together we lift each other up. We find our best training and races not just being helped by others, but when we help others. Harambee.
The 12 Jamhuri Lines
On the lateral side of each shoe are twelve lines that represent December 12th (12/12) which is one of the most important holidays in Kenya: Jamhuri Day. 12th December 1963 is the day that Kenya gained independence and on the same day, one year later, became a republic. The 12 lines are a commemoration to this historic day in Kenya. For us at Enda, the 12 lines also represent the freedom that comes with running and achieving your goals.
The heel groove: The Great Rift Valley
On the back heel of the shoe is a groove that represents Kenya’s Rift Valley escarpments. Most Kenyan runners come from the rift valley, which with its high altitude and mild climate, provides the best environment to train for a marathon. The groove pays ode to the valley.
Repeating geometric patterns
Finally, you will find repeating triangular patterns on the side mesh of the Iten’s upper, heel strap and outsole. Many traditional Kenyan fabrics and beads have geometric and repeating triangular patterns incorporated in them.
We hope you enjoyed seeing these little whispers of Kenyan design and culture on your shoe. If you don’t yet have a pair: order one today and add some Kenyan running flare to your fastest runs.