By Bose Adelaja
PROGRAMME Initiator of Think Africa Project, Chinasa Jonathan-Ojei, has advocated for corporate Nigeria to imbibe corporate African dress code, to increase the demand for African fabrics and reawaken the comatose textile industries.
Speaking at a forum in Lagos, she said African fabrics like Adire, Aso Oke, Ankara, Akosombo, Akwete, Batik, Bogolanfini Ghana Textile Prints, Guinea brocade, Kente, Printex, Woodin, and other African fabrics will create African corporate dress styles, showcase African accessories, fund independent power generation, and create more employment opportunities.
She said Nigeria should emulate Ghana and other African countries in terms of dress codes to tackle unemployment rates. In her words, “some years ago, Ghanaians in an attempt to keep the textile industry, celebrate their culture, preserve their identity and wear clothing made with the local fabrics launched the ‘National Friday Wear Programme’ and later embarked on the ‘Everyday Wear” initiative.
The Ghanaian textiles industry has been a key source of providing employment opportunities to many of her citizens. Today, Ghana boasts of one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and these types of initiatives are what Think Africa is asking Corporate Africa to embrace and make her culture visible and also sell the African brand to the world.”
Chinasa said the initiative is not out to instill fear in Nigerians but expose them to the benefits of African fabrics saying, “57 years ago, Nigeria got her independence like other African countries. It is time to create African corporate dress code and interiors with local accessories and fabrics instead of being stuck to the mundane coloured attires forced on us by the colonial employers who used dressing to assert their supremacy, hence, wearing the ‘white men’s clothes’ to do his ‘white collar jobs’ here in Africa became the standard despite the heat and its inherent health challenges including heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rash and fungal infection on the leg, popularly known as Athlete’s foot.
“My people, Africa has come of age to create her own dress code and styles! It’s spiritual for ministers’ cassocks to be Africanised; it is very professionally corporate for banks, other financial institutions, oil and gas sector and blue chip companies to wear smartly made African fabric attires as dress codes; it’s humane for doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to incorporate African fabrics in their existing uniforms or design entirely new uniforms that are truly African.
It is absolutely glorious for choristers to wear African fabrics as angels will come down to join in their renditions; it is simply academic for graduating students to dress up in gowns adorned lavishly with African fabrics; it’s formidable for the armed forces’ uniform to have a touch of African fabric.
African biased interior decorations have never left anyone in doubt of how breath-taking African arts, fabrics and designs can be. African leaders should attend international meetings dressed up in African fabrics.”
Chinasa said some corporate organisations and schools have already adopted the initiative which is yielding positive results. ‘Think Africa is not saying that corporate Africa should adopt ethnic and traditional attires with ‘Okpu agu, hula, fila or gele, rather, our assignment is to convince corporate Africa, to as a matter of urgency, reinvent the wheel and create her smart corporate African dress styles to reflect our culture, weather; social challenges, economic need and identity in the corporate space.