What Exactly Is New African Fashion?

I attended the panel discussion on Helen Jennings‘s book New African Fashion” at the New York Public library the other night. As a great fan of Ghanaian designer Mimi Plange , Somali designers Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim, the website Heritage 1960 & Arise magazine, I figured this would be a great lesson on what this so called “New African Fashion” is because these are some of the top young new faces representing this concept to the world at large. At a time when there is new found glory for African fashion with many African designers trying to navigate their way through international exposure amongst the plethora of non-African designers creating or copying African designs & aesthetics in fabrics & silhouettes, I wanted to finally understand what exactly is so new.

I realized that this idea of “New African Fashion” is only really new to those who have never known nor just chose to ignore African fashion through the centuries until the western world dubbed  our global African flyness worthy of being celebrated once again. I just came back from a trip to Ghana, where I was schooled on the fact that I like many have fallen into the trap of the semantics  of calling things “new” as if we are somehow reinventing the wheel that had already been sprung generations before many of us were even born. I had on a top that I created for my PGF (Product of Global Fusion) capsule collection, which my aunt quickly recognized & informed me that the fabric I was wearing was not just “African Print” but actually had its own individual name & was an old fabric from when she was a child. I was happy to have been taken out of my own ignorance to be educated on the fact that every fabric design, although generalized to the world as “African print” actually had a name , history & story behind it- which I like most in the western world who have embraced what is now the ubiquity of African prints in fashion have been completely oblivious to. I was further made to feel like the ignorant westerner when my mom & my aunt went in to tell me that the pencil skirt & jacket that I wanted made was boring & old & that now they had some hot new styles & silhouettes that I should consider. I nearly gagged in my laughter because here I was thinking that I was so fashion forward as my elders told me to have a seat & schooled me on what was really haute! As I looked through old family photos of my mom, aunt, uncles, grandmother & grandfather,  it became apparent that this whole idea of “New African Fashion” was just the latest buzz term for the regurgitation of what was only new to a new generation without a firm grasp of our history. As Geydu Blay Ambolley,  the father of hip-hop music in Ghana, said in my documentary Black Star Rising Everything derived from Africa, they just take it, redefine it & sell it back to us“! Truer words have never been spoken as I thumbed through Ms. Jennings’s book to find the same images that those of us in fashion have seen over & over again as representative of African fashion & attempting to educate us on what many of us already know & live as Africans.

African wax prints are generally known to have patterns that tell stories of relevance to the wearer. These include proverbs, poems and traditional African fables. The colours also hold significance as they can represent social standing, age, tribal orientation and marital status. The term ‘African print’ was generally used by the European textile firms in Africa to identify fabrics that were machine-printed and had wax resins and dyes on both sides of the cloth to achieve batik effect. The history of African prints dates back to when batik wax-resist textiles were first imported into Africa from Indonesia in the 1800s, through West African soldiers that served in Indonesia from early 1800s to just beyond the mid 1800s. These batik wax-resist fabrics were also brought into Africa by European traders, mainly the Dutch. The fabrics were then customized and designed to reflect local African tradition, culture and symbolisms. Many of the designs found on fabrics depict events, proverbs, persons of importance or local flora and fauna. African prints are mostly found in Cote d’ Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria. They can also be found in many Central and Eastern African countries. The use of African wax prints outside of Africa is now also on the increase. Many Westerners are accepting the beautiful and natural blend the fabrics portray in every design. Felix Anaman of Felix Anaman Clothing says his fashion house has excelled over the years because it believes in playing and promoting the African fabric, together with the design concepts that go with it. He stated, “It has been predicted by fashion experts that African prints are what will make fashion fashionable in some few years to come, which is why we, as designers, ought to promote it.” READ MORE

The story begins in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), where locals have long used the technique of wax-resist dying—basically applying wax to a cloth, and then dying over that wax to create a pattern—to make batik. These elaborately patterned handmade textiles bear some similarities to the prints we’ve been noticing on the runways: bold, repeating, intricate motifs set against backgrounds of varying hues. So what accounts for the overlap? One prevailing theory is this: In the mid-19th century, the Dutch enlisted a bunch of West African men—both slaves and mercenaries—to beef up their army in Indonesia. While there, these men took a liking to the local handicrafts and brought batik back to their home countries. And voila: A taste emerged in West Africa for these Indonesian designs...” READ MORE

IN the years since Yves Saint Laurent showed his iconic 1967 “African” collection, fashion designers have repeatedly tapped the heritage of Africa in search of inspiration. Just last season Burberry and Michael Kors were among several labels that mined the continent as a source of ideas. Yet in the popular imagination, especially in the Western hemisphere, African fashion more often than not means animal prints, mud cloth and cowrie shells. In her new work, “New African Fashion” (Prestel; $35), Helen Jennings, a fashion journalist, hopes to broaden that view. Part coffee-table book, part glossary, it highlights designers — some established, some fledgling — whose work is African made or inspired.While there is no single way to describe African style, the fashion industry tends to favor characterizations that to many people smack of condescension. “Fashion is full of meaningless terms like ‘tribal’ and ‘urban,’ ” said Ms. Jennings, who is also the editor of Arise, a two-year-old monthly African fashion and culture glossy. “Like the word ‘exotic’ — it makes me cringe.”“African fashion hasn’t been documented very well,” the author told the audience. She and the panelists were emphatic that African fashion did not have to fit a preconceived notion of what is “African.”Ms. Plange studied architecture and rarely uses traditional prints or textiles in her garments.“I want to prove to people that African fashion can’t be pigeonholed,” she said. “I can compete globally.” Her craftsmanship got the attention of André Leon Talley, who helped edit her fall 2011 collection. She also collaborated with Manolo Blahnik…” READ MORE

It seems that generation after generation we are all complicit in consuming the same ol’ same ol in convincing ourselves that we have invented something new. From global African music, fashion & overall culture it seems we always have to wait & praise westerners for telling our stories & teaching us about our history. This is nothing new, all you have to do is watch films like Cadillac Records or even know the simple history of hip-hop fashion that became the soup dujour to the fashion world after Tommy Hilfiger took it  down the runway, while global Africans like Karl Kani , Willi Smith & so many others had already popularized it on global concrete runways long before Tommy Hilfiger made it so called “acceptable” outside of our global African tribes. Right now the narrative that most western journalist tell about “African Prints” is that most of the African market share come from the Dutch company Vlisco completely negating the fact that there are major and small scale African owned and African based companies like GTP and ATP that design and market homegrown African textiles to a larger African market than their european counterparts, who may have introduced these prints to the African market with Africans perfecting it in African authenticity years later. These African based and owned companies are on a constant battle to survive because they do not have these high powered lawyers or proper government regulations to protect the African’s market share along with fighting off Chinese and European knock offs, international press going out of the box to truly seek the story from the people who have globally popularize “African Prints” to a point now that it it solely associated with the continent instead of just surface research, and the the general overall mindset locally and globally that somehow Africans don’t know their worth until Westerners come to put a price on it. At some point we have to take real responsibility in protecting & preserving our culture globally by not repeating the same mistakes of the past.

I was told that Helen Jennings, Editor of Arise, gave a great presentation of African fashion before I got there, which I missed because I was caught up in yet another Ocuppy Wall Street protest, which this time directly targeted President Obama in yet another multi-million dollar fundraising event in New York with protest signs saying “Obama is owned by Wall Street”, which isn’t too far from the truth when we see how much wall street corporate money goes into financing all political campaigns eventhough politicians swear up & down  that they are somehow different from the rest who serve the interest of lobbyists more than the interests of the people who elect them & who they make tons of campaign promises to every year- to serve them differently than those who came before them. All around the world same song- same fuckery. By the time I was finally able to enter the library through the crowd of protestors outside, the panel was already in full discussion mode with Ms. Jennings seemingly quiet & somehow distracted or disconnected from the discussion as if she didn’t really want to be there anymore as a European selling the history of African fashion to a standing room only crowd of global Africans. I guess it was a good thing that the presentation went on for too long to allow time for a Q & A for someone like me & some others to keep it all the way real-LOL!

We’ve basically been exporting our culture…the west has taken/borrowed a lot from Africa; whereas Africans have just sat down & let their own culture be taken away from them, but now it’s a renaissance- we are claiming back what is ours & we’re adding value to what is ours to make it globally acceptable & globally appealing!” READ MORE

I was able to catch the part of the discussion that interests me the most when it comes to African fashion, which is the actual business of selling & attaining financial gain from the creations of African designers & a general workforce in the African fashion industry. There was a general consensus amongst the panel with Mimi Plange keeping it all the way real in exclaiming that she is in the business of fashion to make money & not just for the hype of the plethora of African fashion week shows sprouting up all over the world, focused more on hype & publicity rather than getting these designers into retail stores & educating them on the actual business of fashion that is a multi-billion dollar industry, where the financial gain amongst African designers is extremely disproportionate to their western counterparts who are defining this so called “New African Fashion”, much like it has always been for everything invented & created by global Africans throughout the years. I heard the usual & almost insulting excuse of “it takes time” because somehow Africans need to be educated on the basics of just putting together a quality fashion show production as if African owned production houses like ASHA , who I have worked with for many years along with so many others, have never done shows for New York Fashion week & other fashion weeks all over the world before Arise Magazine & others came with their new platforms to showcase African designers. This is all BS to me because I have been working in the industry for over 14 years & I am not the only African who has been doing so on many levels from publicity, to show production, to retail buying & management, to design & everything else that comes with the business of fashion. The main issue here is that African experts in these fields are never sought after by many companies- African or otherwise because we somehow continue to believe that non-Africans know best  & fall in line to always look outside of our communities to get ahead & progress in many & sometimes all of our business ventures, without ever acknowledging that we have excellent resources within our global community.

Why should it take time to bring in buyers to a fashion show when anyone who handles publicity & show production knows that the focus of any fashion show is to sell & make money for the designer; therefore retail buyer outreach is more important than having random celebrities, fashionistas & socialites in your front row, who often will never buy 1 piece from any designer that doesn’t give them something for free. Many of the people who attend these African Fashion Week shows around the world are there mostly to be seen & for the party atmosphere, most of them will never go out of their way to seek out the designers showing to actually patronize them with the money that they freely give to the Guccis  & Vuittons of the world. I have said there was an issue with the fact that I saw very few to no buyers from the beginning, as I applauded the first Arise Magazine New York Fashion Week show that gave new life to showcasing African designers that had been done, sponsored & stopped by Anglogold Ashanti years before Arise Magazine came on the scene. My sentiments have been taken by some as “hating” & being overly critical to those who are trying to do something great for the African fashion industry, but all I can say to that is that we can never grow if we can not accept constructive criticism & it takes resources & money to create an industry because while press hype is great, it doesn’t pay the bills or give anyone but press & those who put out these kinds of books any concrete jobs to support an industry. What Africa needs more than anything in all sectors is real jobs & to build on structures that are already in place to create more jobs, not more applause, pats on the back, more it takes time talk & meager handouts to show that we are trying to build an industry that has already been in place outside of  the structure that is deemed acceptable to the western world.

‎”If you want to address poverty, you have to bring work-it’s value creation. We’re not here to make charity t-shirts , We are here to make a product & why not come here? There’s a skill base that is being developed. We’re doing good. They are capable of doing great things. It’s quite incredible to think we might save the world thru fashion” . Vivienne Westwood & the Westwood Team on manufacturing in Kenya

I thought it was a great step in the right direction when Mimi Plange spoke about looking to manufacture & build factories in Ghana to produce her collection, which will build the industry by creating concrete jobs while building the “Made in Africa” label, just as Made in America, Made in France, Made in Italy, Made in China & other “Made In” labels have built brands that are globally recognized & esteemed with a specific focus in tailoring & manufacturing that is uniquely symbolic of those nations. Africa needs people who are formidable partners in their true growth financially, not just those who want to continue the usual exploitation & telling Africans it takes time to develop while others are profiting without waiting for the so called time it takes to actually see the financial gains. The Somali twins who design Maatano expressed their desire to have the opportunity to be the ones at the forefront to bring Africans designs created by Africans with them specifically in mind before the Zara’s & H&M’s of the world flood Africa, which I also thought was an excellent idea that must come to fruition with Africans supporting them because African Fashion is not based on one specific aesthetic of prints, it cuts across all varieties of cultures & styles from casual to formal, to traditional & all points in between. The designers of Maatano also made it a point to point out that while in their predominantly Muslim mother country of Somalia, there are only really two silhouettes which most of the women wear & add their individuality to it through color palate  & the beautiful jewelry which they adorn themselves with; their personal aesthetic with Maatano is much more than just two silhouettes influenced by their Somali heritage.

This brings me to the fact that we also have to be aware of consuming the idea that there is somehow one set idea of what African Fashion is supposed to represent in a continent that is now broken up into 56 countries. I was actually shocked & taken aback the other day as I walked into my local Jamaican resturant when the gentlemen who was serving me looked at me & said “Are you from Africa?”, I ofcourse happily replied “Yes”, then he went on to tell me that the woman that had just left was from my country. I looked at him with a side eye since I had not mentioned which country I was from  & I could clearly decipher that the woman that just left was from a francophone African country & not from Ghana, so I said “How do you know she’s from my country”, he then went on & replied “you’re from Africa right, she’s from Africa too”.  I replied, “Is Jamaica the same as Trinidad , Haiti, Dominican Republic or St. Lucia even though they are all in the Caribbean?” He looked at me in shamefully realizing his mistake & ignorance & said “Miss that’s not nice”.  I shook my head & thought wow, here we go again with me having to explain to someone that Africa is a continent with many countries, who speak thousands of different languages. I was disheartened especially because I had to explain this to someone who I would have thought would know better coming from the nation of Bob Marley & the Maroons , who have always spoken of their African heritage as Jamaicans, while sighting specific countries of origin. This man who was well into his 40’s was shocked when I told him that we all speak different languages & that there were thousands of languages in Africa. I guess this is the burden & calling we have to take on as global Africans, making sure we are there for these teaching moments with our own firm grasp of our languages & our history, so we can set the record right in our representation.

The generalization that there is one African aesthetic in fashion, outside of the idea that Africa really represents a true global aesthetic in its African authenticity because it is the root of humanity needs to be better addressed & defined in building the African Fashion industry. We have only ourselves to blame in our acceptance of the mixed messages that we often send. We have African designers saying that they just want to be seen as designers & not African designers, while talking about building the African fashion industry & complaining about how non-Africans are copying & defining what the African fashion industry should be or look like. We can’t have it both ways. You don’t hear Dontaella Versace complaining about being called an Italian designer or the house of Chloe & Louise Vuitton being upset by the fact that they are considered the epitome & embodiment of French design & aesthetic. Vivienne Westwood manufacturing her collection in Kenya does not make her any less an English designer or anymore an African designer than her counterparts like Burberry & others who have taken African prints & made them their own, nor does Marc Jacobs designing for Louis Vuitton make him a French designer or make the Louise Vuitton aesthetic considered American instead of authentically French.  African designers do not have to do collections with solely or any wax or mud prints at all to make them authentically part of African fashion.  What differentiates these African designers from the rest is that they are African from their roots; therefore their design influence will always be African inspired with an African personality, whether they are utilizing African prints or not because the history is carried along with them season after season, much like their European & American counterparts. It is up to us as publicist, writers, fashion editors,stylists, buyers,designers, manufacturers, show production entities etc. to speak to the African consumer & to let them know that we have done the research as to what they want, who they are & what suits their African personality in order to bring them in to support African designers just as much or more so than they support European, American & Chinese made goods , which have been flooding the African continent to the peril of the African Fashion Industry.

We need to speak to the African consumer in our advertising & educate them that building the African Fashion Industry means supporting, buying & wearing the products created by African designers not just jumping on the bandwagon & consuming the European, Chinese & American made goods & designers who are selling them their idea of what new African fashion is. We need to come to a point in our industry where each one of us takes personal responsibility in telling our own stories & building our own industry with a true African personality in mind, void of the cliche terms of “new African fashion” & kowtowing to global appeal by westernizing what is & has always been authentically African from the fruit to the root. If we truly believe that Africa is where humanity began & that there is a specific African identity that comes & evolves in newness of creativity from nation to nation, then we have to be more diligent in putting that message out there in a concise & consistent manner instead of just falling in line with the status quo of having our story redefined, pigeonholed & told to us by non-Africans, no matter how much they tell us that they love us & want to help us build by following their way & structure.

As most of you who have read my writings know, I am far from a PC(Politically Correct) African. My concept of Global Fusion is less about some sort of gumbo inspired “kumbaya” melting pot, where Africa with all its rich history & contributions to the world blends in or metamorphosizes into an acceptable western aesthetic, as opposed to shining a light on the fact that Africa is where humanity began with great influence throughout global culture that has now been watered down,devoid of its spices or redefined to appease or appeal to different segments of the world. I prefer my jollof rice authentically flavor filled with the hotness of spices that makes you feel it within your bones & soul without any Asian or Italian noodles added to it- as it is being done now in Ghana- because an Italian or Asian will not kowtow to appeasing me my serving me their national taste with shito & African flavors added to it.

I thumbed through the book “New African Fashion”, but I must admit that I didn’t purchase it because I refuse to continue the same ol’ story of having my history be told to me by those who have never truly been immersed in the culture & history until they saw profit to be made. I am not saying that this is not a great well put together book, but it does not show or tell me anything that I have not already seen & known before, so in that case I would rather give my hard earned money to global Africans who are also telling our stories from an authentically African perspective like Jacqueline Shaw with her new book Fashion Africa. It always seems like for global Africans to share their passion, vision & expertise with the world on the global Africa that they were born into, & live & breath daily -they always have to do it with their own money  to the point of going bankrupt in their labors of love to make their dreams come true. For Instance look at the amazing work done by Nigerian born Oroma Elewa with Pop’ Africana, which gives Vogue such a run for its money that they have had to acknowledge her & her work many times in their own publication. If one woman with a vision & a dream to be & showcase the new face of Africa can create such greatness with her own money & limited resources, imagine what she could do with the right financial backing & the same access  given to the Helen Jennings of the world, who are always sought after to be the face, vision & expert on all things African brought to the world’s attention?  I am not implying that non-global Africans shouldn’t be allowed to write books about Africa; however I am questioning the expert title given to these writers who are telling stories of people & places that they are often no more than passerby’s  & visitors of, while those who actually have been immersed in & live the culture are often passed over for equal opportunities to tell their own stories. This is my real issue in all of this, which goes beyond just one woman’s book. How often, if ever, are non-Europeans given the opportunity to be entitled to the title of “expert” in writing about or presenting European culture to the world? I can hear the loud sounds of crickets in many not being able to find any examples of this.

I am not afraid to be called racist, nationalist or pro-African because I would rather support my fellow global Africans who are truly the ones who have had to live the culture, put in the work, build our industry, give us accolades in support,  & are the true keepers & storytellers of our history, much like Andrew Dosunmu , Yinka Shonibare, James Barnor , Constance C.R. White & so many more past & present who have been telling & showcasing the beauty of global African fashion, culture & aesthetics long before Ms. Jennings thought to teach us about what she considers “New African Fashion”.

When Franca Sozzani, editor of Vogue Italia, visited the Huffington Post offices last month she revealed that her proudest professional moment was publishing the “Black Issue,” which helped promote diversity in the fashion industry. Well, she continued that campaign with a trip to the African country of Ghana to mentor a group of designers from the WEB-Young Designers Hub. You have lots of potential in this country. During my stay in Africa, I visited Togo and Nigeria but it was only here in Ghana I noted an authentic sense of fashion. In designing your creations, make sure that they feature not only references to Ghanaian culture but also have an international appeal so that your garments can also be successful also abroad.” READ MORE

It always amazes me how we justify our own lack of consistency in rhetoric of what we support & give acclamation to. The same fashionistas who raged all hell about Essence Magazine losing touch with their readership & consumer base by hiring a White Fashion Director as the face of a magazine dedicated to African-American women are the same ones who praise Arise & tout it as the new era representation of global Africa, without acknowledging the fact that the main vision in charge of this so called new global African aesthetic is also a European with a magazine created in Europe with African financial backing. These are the same people who are in charge of Black publications that never think to expand globally into Africa, the Caribbean & Latin America in service of the billion plus global Africans there, who would be more than appreciative to see their own likeness as well, while they consistently hire White photographers to capture our aesthetic in some ill-conceived idea of diversity, as qualified Black photographers sit around waiting to be called upon & to get a fair check by being given the same opportunity & access that is denied to them by non-global African focused publications. These are the same fashionistas who applaud any time Vogue gives a cover to a person of color or a European or American designer puts more than one model of color in an Ad. campaign or on their runway, while failing to challenge global African publications & designers to be the change they want to see by putting more African faces & creatives in their own publications, Ad. campaigns & runways. Why is it so taboo or somehow not representing diversity if Tracy Reese or Oswald Boateng sends all Black models down the runway, or Essence, Arise or Ebony doing special issues with solely global African representation as Vogue Italia & Lanvin did with us all applauding them for doing so as some sort of evolvement in new era progress as an industry since the days of Versailles. It is never considered taboo or shocking for non-Black American & European designers & publications to steadily only utilize European & American White models & designers, as we continue to complain then praise them for giving us special issues in diversity statements by sending all or some global African models down their runways once in awhile, in an attempt to appease us for the mean time.

I am actually a fan of Arise magazine & applaud them for their efforts in bringing about the much needed dialogue of who we are as Africans & our place & progress in the world of fashion &  global culture in general, but I am not going to pretend that it is anything new from the status quo of Africa being sold to us from a European vision. If we want to have an honest conversation about building Africa then let’s start by being honest with ourselves & start supporting global Africans who are doing everything possible to tell our stories without the international & national support, hype & access that has always been afforded to their western counterparts. Let’s start by having a vision & a stance that truly represents a new Africa that does not remain conditioned by its conditioning in being the definition of insanity by doing the same things the same way, over & over again & expecting new results. As Nina Simone said – “We’re in the middle of a revolution & I see the face of things to come” -That face will be an African face telling & teaching the history of African culture from fashion, to film, to art & all points of global African business defined by & for the African personality & sold to the world as is -without any kind of need to water down or appease some new idea of a global market that we have contributed to & enriched for centuries without ever getting our fair share in recognition or financial gain. Let’s stop talking about how things take time when the time is NOW!

I made it quite clear that from now on -today – we must change our attitudes, our minds, we must realise that from now on, we are no more a colonial but a free and independent people. But also, as I pointed out, that also entails hard work.That new African is ready to fight his own battles and show that after all, the black man is capable of managing his own affairs. We are going to demonstrate to the world, to the other nations, that we are prepared to lay our own foundation.Our own African identity. As I said in the assembly just minutes ago, I made a point that we are going to create our own African personality and identity. It’s the only way that we can show the world that we are ready for own own battles.I am depending upon the millions of the country, and the chiefs and people, to help me to reshape the destiny of this country.We are prepared to pick it up and make it a nation that will be respected by every nation in the world.We know we are going to have difficult beginnings, but again, I’m relying upon your support, I’m relying upon your hard work.Seeing you in this… it doesn’t matter how far my eye goes, I can see that you are here in your millions and my last warning to you is that you are to stand firm behind us so that we can prove to the world that when the African is given a chance he can show the world that he is somebody! We have awakened. We will not sleep anymore. Today, from now on, there is a new African in the world!” Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

When Will This Cease To Be The Picture ? When Will We Start Leading Ourselves Without Having to Be Part of An Entourage Flanking The Same Faces? When Will We See That We Are Just Repeating History Instead of Doing Anything New! When Will Our Global Fusion Include An Equal Gain? When Will We Be Paid For The Work We’ve Done?

Something in the nature of an economic revolution is required. Our development has been held back for too long by the colonial-type economy. We need to reorganize entirely, so that each country can specialize in producing the goods and crops for which it is best suited.” Neocolonialism- The Last Stage of Imperialism. It is said, of course that we have no capital, no industrial skill, no communications, no internal markets, and that we cannot even agree among ourselves how best to utilize our resources for our own social needs. Yet all the stock exchanges in the world are pre-occupied with Africa’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper and iron ores. Our CAPITAL flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of Western economy. Fifty-two percent of the gold in Fort Knox at this moment, where the USA stores its bullion, is believed to have originated from OUR shores. Africa provides more than 60 per cent of the world’s gold. A great deal of the uranium for nuclear power, of copper for electronics, of titanium for supersonic projectiles, of iron and steel for heavy industries, of other minerals and raw materials for lighter industries – the basic economic might of the foreign Powers – comes from OUR continentExperts have estimated that the Congo Basin alone can produce enough food crops to satisfy the requirements of nearly HALF the population of the whole world and here we sit talking about regionalism, talking about gradualism, talking about step by step. Are you afraid to tackle the bull by the horn?”  Address to the Conference of African Heads of State and Government, May 24, 1963″ DR. Kwame Nkrumah

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  • Vonmiwi

    December 2, 2011 at 3:27 am

    At one time Essence was the one magazine we could count on that showed the diversity of the African woman all over the Diaspora, sadly it is no more. I’ve been a subscriber since 1974 and they highlighted every sister and culture of the diaspora on the cover and on the pages. They, just like other publications have gone the route of popular culture with insipid ignorance.

    Yes, I love to see these women on the covers and in the pages of VOGUE and other fashion magazines, but I don’t spend a dime to finance or support my own exclusion in these publications.

    I have said many times that our success as a people resides in the reunification of our people all over the world. The biggest fear known to those who benefit from our alienation is those who fear our unity by becoming an economic power.

    Do you think of the recent ‘Fair Trade’ practices being used by high-end brands as actually a means to empower many women and men on the African continent? What I see by what they’re charging for these goods, I often wonder are the very men and women who create these items actually receiving a living wage that can place them in the middle class?

    Just as India has brought their image up as a consumer and producer of luxury goods, I know that Africa can do the same things without the ever looming threat of exploitation. African has the resources to create a better quality of life for every one.

    I love an individual who speaks the truth.

  • jacqueline shaw

    December 13, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Thank you for the comment on my book and work and the article overall. It is encouraging to be supported as a black woman who wishes to do positive business in Africa and to show what Africa has to offer – the new Africa and its modern story.

    Do stay connected to our blog as we develop projects in 2012 that brings designers to new markets and campaigns for African fashion.

    Jacqueline – Director Africa Fashion Guide and Author – Fashion Africa

  • Thanh Iams

    December 31, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Now i’m in support of gold and precious metal mining by having a friendly to the environment strategy. Without having rare metal exploration the whole planet is going to be much different.

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    May 12, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I think the most influential asian celebrity is Tom Truong.

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