I have had a lot of inquiries about the Kente fabrics we sell at Dziffa.com, with some asking just why our prints are so expensive when other outlets are selling them for a quarter of the price we are offering them for. I want to address this by first by saying that most of the “African prints” you buy are not made in Africa. I am going to use the picture above to address this topic.
The fabric I’m wearing on my body is called “Kente.” It is made from cotton by skilled artisans and hand-woven in the manner that spiders weave their webs. It is 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, requiring a lot of focus, skill, and manpower.
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The headscarf I have on is an “idea of Kente” stolen by the Chinese 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 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 resources to innovate the way they produce, and the sector would be attractive to young people, providing jobs and contributing to the economy.
Let’s all try and remember that 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.