African print has always been a fascinating sight to behold. Especially when your foot steps into a market and you see all those fabrics lined up in a rainbow -like beauty, you would literally have to slap yourself to resist buying. It happened to me few days ago 🙂
There two prints that are not ready to leave the scenes, but now we will focus on one.
Which reminds me of an African saying that goes “Cloth makes a woman” which means you cant be a complete woman without wearing the African print.
Lets go back a bit to the Genesis of the Print Wax. The history behind it is very complex , by now its no more a shock that its origin is from Europe.
African Print Wax was produced and designed by Europeans who we presume, had little or no knowledge of African culture.
The Dutch started industrializing the batik dyed print, it became a huge industry for the English, Dutch and French, tho it was produced outside Africa, it was inspired by Africa and their target was Indonesia, which failed.
The introduction of wax print in Africa lead to a peak in foreign-manufactured fabrics on West-African markets since the 19th century.
Until post-colonialism when things started changing, but how? They primarily had a concentration of their market in Ghana, precisely in 1960 when Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana and Panafricanist decided to set up the African print producing industries.
Even so, till date we cannot boast of African-owned textile manufacturing industries based in Africa that is booming. Why?
UNIWAX in Cote-d’Ivoire was bought by Vlisco, and produces print of inferior quality. Other textile industries in Benin, Senegal, Togo are still trying to make it. But we are the highest consumers of Wax, especially when we look at the businesses today that use wax as the basic material.
In a study named “Textile and clothing industry in Sub-Saharan Africa by Peter Quartey who explains the case of Ghana, he states that
As at 2002, the four major companies that survived the turbulence in the sub-sector are the Ghana Textile Manufacturing Company (GTMC), Akosombo Textile Limited (ATL), Ghana Textile Product (GTP), and Printex with GTP maintaining the lead in the industry.
Meanwhile we are encouraged to wear local!
Is the the local textile worth it?
With the infiltration of the Chinese in the African print market, they bring to us print of inferior quality but at a cheap price. Is it advisable? When you buy an African print and after wearing it once and washing it once, it becomes light and washed out?
When will the African print industry unite?
There are lots of bottlenecks in the African textile industry, and the end result is that some individuals benefit from it while the economy remains weak, for example when we take the case of Ghana through the study of Peter Quartey who states that
particularly within the ECOWAS sub-region due to trade barriers. Some of the trade barriers include, among others, imposition of 20% duty by Côte d’Ivoire (contrary to ECOWAS regulations), transit tax collected at Benin, extortion by Nigerian authorities, and the risk of currency devaluation. Poor packaging of some manufacturers/exporters also serves as a barrier to exports to markets such as the EU and the United States of America. Also, poor finishing of products (quality/conformity to standards), technical barriers, inability of some manufacturers to meet export orders on schedule”
That is why we witness some border scenes for most people who are used to travelling by road, at these borders there are numerous case of textile smuggling and conflicts between this textile re-sellers and the border security forces.
African textile, is beautiful,wonderful,amazing and will not leave the scenes soon, because Africans have made the print their property, it has broken barriers, it has become the screen of Fashion in the world
It is used to communicate identity, mood,creativity and its not yet ready to rest, it has become the way of life of a people and its economy.
Nevertheless we need to
Re-think our print™
So that we can wear Quality Local African Print, straight from Africa.
Made for Africans by Africans©
Part 2 coming soon…..
Photo credits: Epic Dreams | Pinterest.com
Text excerpts : http://bit.ly/1XwozDd | http://bit.ly/1XwoEXx | http://bit.ly/1XwoM9o