African prints have been around as far back as the 1900s, and I’m oozing with pride right now as I just considered how they’ve conveyed and maintained that signature African pride through the years till now, evolving from generation to generation without losing their inimitable mark of originality.
Earlier today, while surfing the net and perusing Instagram posts in search of Ankara styles I could get my designer to sew for me, I got baffled and bewildered at the behemoth of options filling my eyes! There’s no way anyone’s pocket won’t feel the hit, not with all this ‘juice’ and allure of the interesting styles being made from this particularly awesome African print called Ankara.
I almost filled my phone memory with pictures of Ankara styles, and fabrics my fashion designer could allow me slay in.
It was just amazing to take in the fact that there are various cuts and styles celebrating traditional African prints globally, with beautiful patterns to sew into interesting styles. Who would have thought that women used these fabrics as a method of communication and expression, with certain patterns now even being used as a form or expression of shared language, with widely connotative meanings.
Every Nigerian knows how endlessly versatile Ankara can be – from the conventional Iro and Buba to the out-of-the-box pant suits. The material is definitely one that works anyway you cut it.
Long before now, the fabrics were referred to as ‘African wax prints’ or ‘tribal’. Unknown to most, these fabrics were usually neither made in Africa nor designed by Africans. A little birdie told me that they were actually European-made textiles which certain African countries embraced and made their own. It was over the times (mid-1900s) that the prints then became more African-inspired, African-adpoted and practically African-owned till this day.
Asides the glaring signature of pride and originality that they majestically bear, these African Prints have the ability to communicate. While they come from a combination of Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Arab and European artistic traditions, they speak to people in the language of the shopkeeper, or the artist, the designer or the art curator, in the most beautiful and ingenious way possible.
So they aren’t just beautiful, these African prints are infused with stripes of a very rich culture and strides of a great history.
They are our African pride!