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Dear Afrocentrists, “African Prints” Are Not From Africa

Posted by Dzifa Ametam on

I have had a lot of inquiries about the Kente fabrics we sell at with some asking just why our prints are so expensive when other outlets are selling them for $7 a yard. I want to address this by firstly saying that we don't sell prints and the "African Prints" you buy are not made-in-Africa. I am going to use the picture below to address this topic.

The fabric I'm wearing on my body is called Kente. It is made from cotton by skilled artisans and handwoven in the manner that spiders weave their web. It is very authentic. You can have them for decades and they will still look brand new. 6 yards of Kente can take about one week to make as every part of the it is unique, 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 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 are 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 resource to innovate the way they produce, the sector will be attractive to young people, provide jobs and contribute to the economy.

Let's all try and remember the last sentence the next time we are tempted to buy a colorful Chinese print from someone marketing them to us as African.

We are 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.

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  • I will endeavour to buy made in Nigeria from now on

    Ade on
  • The issues here are enormous. In out technical institutions is there a department in the art section that teaches the real weaving and the original ways of making these things? Seldom or non.
    My believe is that if the youth are taught these methods, they will device was to industrialize the production system so that the African market can meet the world’s demand of original African fabrics and other Artifacts.

    Idara on
  • And to complete the cycle and give it an unlikely food connection, the Ghanaian based foreign traders shift their profits out of the country by exporting fresh produce, typically Yams in competition with local exporters who struggle to conduct legitimate business. What goes on here in the UK in selling the yams is a different topic all together but just as bad. Africans need to wake up.

    AO on
  • What can we (consumers), do to buy authentic African prints from Africa? I wonder if the vendors on W. 116 St, sell authentic African prints, or the brother on W. 125th St., in Harlem, NY

    Nellie Crick on
  • Hi Chidu, I think the best we can all do is to be more educated on the products we buy and also make a conscious effort to buy our local products :)

    Dziffa Akua on

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