Dear Afrocentrists, “African prints” are not from Africa
I’ve had a lot of inquiries about the Kente fabrics we sell at Dziffa.com. Some ask why our prints are so expensive when other outlets are selling them for a quarter of the price we offer them for. I want to address this by first saying that most of the “African prints” you buy are not made in Africa. I’ll use the picture below to address this topic.
The fabric I’m wearing on my body in this issue is called Kente. It’s made from cotton by skilled artisans and hand-woven in the manner that spiders weave their web. It’s very authentic. You can have them for decades and they will still look brand new. Six yards of Kente can take about one week to make, as every part of it is unique and requires a lot of focus, skill and manpower.
The headscarf I have on is an “Idea of Kente” stolen by the Chinese and co. and marketed to African-Americans as “African prints.”
African prints have no connection to the continent whatsoever and they are destroying our local fabric industry.
To make matters worse, African market women are importing them and selling them to tourists as African.
Instead of being offended and educating non-Africans that the Chinese, Indians and a few local manufacturing companies are messing up our industry by stealing our ideas and marketing them as “African,” we’re just following the trend and not stopping to tell people that “hey, this one is Kente from Ghana and this other one is just an idea of the Kente that is depriving us of customers we need to grow our local industry.”
If all the money sent to non-African manufacturers in the name of “African Prints” were channeled to the continent, our manufacturers would have the financial resources to innovate the way they produce, the sector would be more attractive to young people, it would provide jobs and contribute to the economy.
Let’s all try and remember this the next time we are tempted to buy a colorful Chinese print marketed as African:
We’re all contributors of this continent; we can either invest in its growth or contribute to its underdevelopment. No savior is coming and the bad guys don’t exist. We are the saviors, we can choose to go with the trends or change the wave. The ball is in our court.