23 Jul

When I was a little kid, my friends and I used to play a game that required participants to identify the flags of different African countries. Later on, I learned that the colors embellishing each flag are symbolic. Decades down the line, I find myself paying attention to the flags of the countries I visit and trying to attach meanings to their color schemes.

Recently, I found out that the shouting colors of the fabric used to make African attire have meanings too. There is more to the traditional African prints, also known as the Ankara, than simply decoration. Their patterns reflect peace, love, freedom and unity, to name but a few.

The iconic Afrocentric material, popularly known as Kitenge in East and Central Africa, is gaining international recognition. Kitenge shirts, hats, backpacks, laptop bags, wallets and different accessories are common all over the region and beyond.

One of my favorite activities in African markets is to buy a piece of kitenge and watch a tailor transform it into a custom-made product of my choice. Kitenge can be sewn into anything. It stimulates creativity and satisfies the ever-evolving needs of fashion enthusiasts.

The Ghanaian Kente is one of the most popular fabrics in West Africa. It is also embraced by people of African descent around the world. While in Ghana, I saw how designers are adding a modern twist to the traditional Kente. The fusion of tradition and contemporary styles is magical.

More and more Africans are upgrading their wardrobes in favor of locally made clothing items. By turning to African designers, we are pumping the little air we can gasp into our economies and giving local businesses a shot in the arm.