Fashion is dead to Cultural Imperialism

I have no idea how to body surf… but surfing the Internet is my specialty.

In the course of one of my online merry-go-rounds, I stumbled on some beautiful images that had me panting for more.

You have to believe this truth: in Africa right now, it doesn’t have to be CoCo Chanel, LV, Donna Karan or even Sarah Burton (McQueen) to be RIGHT. It just has to be AFRICAN ANKARA!

ankara harems

Ankara is a popular and inexpensive African textile that has been in existence for ages. It’s inability to command large wads of cash unlike its contemporaries, despite its value, made it one of the most shunned fabrics (at least in Nigeria) for a long time. Who wants cheap things?

If my mother ever needed to strap me to her back when I was a lot younger, she would rather use a lay-around Ankara wrapper, than have me soil her expensive “Hollandia” (foreign textile) with the liquid elements little children release from within :p (I never soiled my nappy, believe what you wish :D)

African women were more interested in acquiring Taffeta Laces, Dry Laces, Guinea Brocades, Damasks and other imported fabrics to reflected high economic status. This is not to mention huge collections of English and French designer suits, shirts, bags and shoes luxuriously perched in the wardrobes. Ankara just didn’t cut it.

Ankara Dress (Bella Naija)

Today, reverse is the case!

It looks like if you do not have an ANKARA staple item, you are not a happening Girl/Guy; especially among the younger generation.

Switching to Media Junkie mode, I perceive a shift in the power of cultural imperialism. Cultural imperialism (at the risk of sounding slightly academic this one time) is the idea that developed societies impose their cultural values on other less developed nations. This includes what you wear, what you eat (like its classy to have bacon & eggs rather than ‘Akamu’ and ‘Akara’), the music you listen to and movies you consume among many others.

Five years ago, I would have staunchly defended the value of cultural imperialism like my life depended on it. But present and ongoing developments are making me have a re-think. In The Economist article on Advertising in Africa:Nigeria’s Mad Men, they recognised this shifting paradigm in a statement:

The more affluent, younger consumers (half the population is under 20) tend to be knowledgeable about foreign brands but intensely proud of their own culture, says Mr Nwosu. They refer to Nigeria as “Naija” or “9ja”, a term that implies a love of “the food, the flamboyant dressing, the mannerisms, the boisterous—some say loud—interaction among complete strangers…

-The Economist

Even America’s Beyonce was spotted in Ankara at some point. 

Ankara has now become the fabric-to-die-for in diverse items


If I were Ankara, I would sing this song for the rest of my life- “rejected stone, now the chief corner stone”.

And if Cultural Imperialism ever won the battle, African Fashion just broke free from the dungeons.

The Media Junkie!

Beyonce Spotted

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8 thoughts on “Fashion is dead to Cultural Imperialism

  1. S-star says:

    This is just the BEGINNING.
    We have got a beautiful culture am soooo PROUD of!!!
    So where do we get ankara in the uk and a good taylor that won’t charge 100 pounds to sew!

  2. Gemma Sidney says:

    Nice work, Tomi! This is a really interesting article. I like your take on the situation and your analysis of cultural imperialism. I love the Bella Naija dress!

  3. vanessa says:

    Please where can I get the ankara used for the throw pillows?

    • Tee says:

      They are available in Lagos, Nigeria…also popular in Ghana… What country are you based?

      • vanessa says:

        I live in Lagos and desperately need them.Could you please direct me?they are just awesome!!!!!!!

      • Tee says:

        Err okay. If you mean the exact designs used to make the throw pillows I sincerely can’t say. I’m sorry I’m not of much help 😦

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