We are on the road again. This time heading to Graz, the capital city of Austria’s forested southern state – Styria, the home of Terminators superstar – Arnold Schwarzenegger
. We are excited to showcase our products. It’s a long drive, so good music is a must and nothing else was better than Wyclef Jean, Micheal Jackson and random 2009 hit mix. But wait! It rained like hell and we could only do 80km/hour. Pauline and I look forward to a nice festival, great fair guest and lots of new customers at our tent. Actually, this festival honors authentic African made products. It’s very common to go to African fairs and be shocked that 80% of what they sell to customers branded under the African flair, has no connection to Africa what so ever. Even worse when non-Africans do it. A vast majority of the products come from China, Thailand and else where but Africa. So why use the brand value “Africa” to sell your non African made products?
Does “where” matter?
Basically, I preach that it is not where but how. We live in a global world, so we would hardly have everything from our backyard, especially the things we cannot self-produce. But Africa has manpower and vibrant youths hungry to develop businesses, only if demand could sustain their ventures. How can there be true demand if Asian copycats visit fairs, snapshot ideas and replicate in cheap mass production.
But what I fight to understand is how my fellow Africans accredit this game – travelling to shop Non-African African mass products from Asia and seal the concept with skin color, dreadlocks and more stereotyped looks. Well then, who is more legitimate to economically abuse the brand Africa other than African Migrants?
Africa is so sexy, that even European and Asian companies get their all white team to design hyper colorful prints in Manchester, Holland, in Asia and produce them there and then sell it to the world as African prints. High end designers fall for this joke. What’s African about the fabric? The cotton might not come from Africa as well. So I am freaked out, asking myself what’s so African about this?
Maybe its the colors. Since when did Africans own these colors? Fact is my traditional attire as an Edo (Southern Nigeria) is a piece of white cotton cloth.
Someone introduced (The Dutch!) this colorful prints to build a huge industry off it. Not bad! But, better if while using our exotic image to sell more, we end up profiting through more job creation – designing and producing in Africa. Last I checked, many textile mills closed down unable to compete with either high-end European African prints or cheap mass import from Asia of which non is actually African made.
Nevertheless, the few mills still operating can be rest assured to have us from Joadre platform as a loyal customer, though sometimes they make it hard for us with their old school designs. This coming season, Joadre would see new one color collections as well as vintage African made print designs from Joadre brand. OK, now we just arrived Graz. Time to set up and roll. You know I love to raise awareness about social issues fostering human trafficking, please help me do this by sharing this blog with your friends.
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