I was with my friends on a winter bank holiday in Italy, we covered ourselves with a duvet and held our mugs filled with hot tea as snow was falling…then we started the ‘ ladies thing’ . Did I hear you say gossip?! Oh no…I call it gist (laughs).
We touched on almost all aspects of life merging it with personal experiences and external societal influences… we talked about fashion and lifestyles (music, food, drinks etc). It was a deep gist of sharing ideas, asking questions, agreements and disagreements of opinions but one thing we didn’t fail to do was to make sure we tackled the issue at hand arriving in a unified agreement before moving to another.
Then I shared some thoughts that I have been asking myself with my friends which goes thus:
– Assuming Micheal Jackson was born in Africa, would he have been one of the greatest musicians?
– Would Moet Hennessy, Coco Chanel (fashion designer and icon) and Charles Frederick Worths (father of haute couture) have been great in Africa…. if they were not ‘Made in France’?
– If ‘lasagna ala bolognese’ were traditional foods in Nigeria while ‘gari with akara’ (cassava flakes with bean cakes) are one of the Italian foods……would the former food have been known and eaten in the world?
I must say ‘controversies’ arose among us as we poured out our thoughts. I know very well that Africans are original and have the best of everything like talented musicians/artists, local drinks, tailors and fashion designers, we have the diversified language, natural and tourist attractions, innate and intellectual abilities but we fail to appreciate all these. I specified on the socio-economic factors and opportunities that could be derived from the things we abandoned and neglected because of civilization and westernization (please don’t get me wrong, they are very good) but we fail to utilize and protect what we have as Africans. This reminded me of one of my trips home (Ibadan, Nigeria) and was baffled when my childhood friend chose to speak in English language…..we used to interact in Yoruba language together before I relocated to Italy!
In the fashion and textile industry, it marvels me when I see the price tags of haute couture garments (haute couture are handmade clothes using unique fabrics for special clients). It is very obvious that we have our available local textiles, fabrics and skilled workers but might be constrained by a shortage of funds, innovation and technology but it is time for our fashion designers to start their research by creating unique collections etc. to seek funds from investors.
It is time for textile companies to create African trends for the global market.
It is time for movie producers to tell us epic stories about Africa’s great men and women that will meet global standards; many desire to know more about the continent of Africa asides from poverty, sickness and hunger.
It is during the winter period that people wish to travel to a warm and breezy environment and Africa is so blessed with good climate and weather……. tourism and hospitality is a very lucrative industry.
What of our culinary delicacies and local drinks? I keep wondering why Italian food is highly acceptable and everyone wants to eat the Italian food …well, not only their food but virtually everything the Italian does. I realised that they appreciate their culture and heritage; they have a traditional way of doing things and are very loyal to it. The Italians never want to be anybody else; I learnt this from them although I am very open minded person and welcome to change. It is very true that they produce the best in whatever they do from fashion and leather goods, food and wine, fine gold and jewelleries, building and architectural skills, even to the Mafia… (Did I just say mafias?!).
I thank goodness for the opportunity to travel, I gained exposure and confidence to appreciate who I am, where I come from and the little I have.
It is time to arise from our slumber, support one another and be proud of Africa.
Oluwatobi Orelusi is the creator of www.grandefashionblog.com, and is a fashion and lifestyle writer/blogger. Her desire is to make a positive impact in people’s lives. She works with the most prestigious Wedding, Honeymoon, and Leisure Company in Italy and is very glad to be part of this community to share her knowledge and experiences.