The world is ever evolving and fashion evolves with it. The emergence of European rule in Africa brought along with its fashion influence. In early times, one of the focal points of the missionary project in Africa was to clothe “the natives”. this adoption of western fashion by Africans has over the years, had its impact even till modern times. The good news is that this stronghold has gradually been on a decrease over the past decade, as there is an obvious increase in the use of African attires. The African attire is that which identifies one as truly African. The African attire shows an African’s confidence, love, and loyalty for his motherland. Most Africans in the diaspora have taken up this fashion style – wearing mainly African attires – to the extent that it has piqued the interests of Americans; whether black or white.
The true African’s identity is shown not only in the color of skin or spoken language but most importantly, in the African attire. It is shown in those colorful imprints on the kente fabric and in the uniqueness of traditional bracelets. The true African’s identity is shown in the vibrancy of the Ankara fabric as shown in the bearing of the wearer. African attires are the wellspring of artistic beauty and inspirations, as can be seen on the runways of big fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Thakoon, Valentino, and many others.
African attires hold in them a true sense of what it means to be African. They have a history, a story behind each imprint and are truly one of a kind. For each piece of African attire, there is a symbol it represents, and each piece has its appropriate use. An example can be sighted in the head gears worn by women in Nigeria and the kanzu, worn by the men of the Swahili tribe.
In the diaspora, where wearing African fashion is incrementally becoming a trend, it is rare for one to wear African attires without being singled out. One may get shouts or nods of approval; some others may get funny questions like:
“Do you have ‘normal’ clothes?”
“Do you speak English?”
Other obvious questions such as, “You are African?” may even arise.
In truth what wearing African attires implies is this; that you are unique, different, fashionable and unapologetically African. It inspires other Africans in the diaspora to do the same – Africans who unknowingly, have lost their identity. The impact of wearing African attires can be seen today as many Africans and black-Americans in the diaspora have embraced the use of African attires. This can clearly be seen in sisters; Beyonce and Solange Knowles, who have severally been spotted wearing African prints.
Conclusively, It is pertinent to note that fashion is itself a statement and speaks volumes with little or no words. Hence, wearing African attire says a whole lot about your identity. It exclaims, “I am African, I love Africa, and I am proud to be African!”