A while ago, Zipporah Gene wrote a controversial article on Those People about how she thinks African-Americans appropriate African culture in their dress, particularly during Afropunk’s Festival. Her argument was that African-Americans wear African outfits and accessories lightly, without knowing what they mean and thus de-meaning them. She ends by urging African-Americans to stop, as Africans (such a blanket conclusion isn’t it) don’t appreciate this.
But I bet most Africans do not agree with this blanket conclusion. For one, Afrofest has become a reputable avenue for people of colour to express their love for their ‘motherland’ Africa, and feel a sense of connection through music and fashion. In the true spirit of Punk, they throw this and that together to give funky, modern, African looks with as many interpretations as there are people. What better way is there to celebrate African creativity and culture by all the self-expressions and personal interpretations of African fashion.
Africans should be proud of this and encourage this expression, instead of feeling de-meaned by it. If anyone feels like the meaning is lost in such avenues, it becomes an opportunity for knowledge sharing and storytelling about the history and meaning of the fashion/art and culture. It’s an amazing opportunity to show a beautiful side of Africa…but with a funky twist.
In light of this, how about we check out our favourite Afrofest self-expressions of all time.
Images via Google Search *lazy confession*