The Fashion Face of Africa

2012/06/27 English damladogan
Everything started 10 years ago. She conceived a dream. She said that Dakar was not different from Paris or New York. And so she started the Fashion Week in Senegal’s capital. She showed everyone that, once regarded a Dark Continent, Africa was not all about conflict and violence. Here is the name behind the Dakar Fashion Week.
Thousands of people gather in the streets… Eyes, fixed on the catwalk…. This scene is neither in Paris nor New York as you’d normally expect. Famous models are wearing the collections of renowned designers, however, there is a twist. The 37 models walking on the podium and the 30 designers that showcase their creations are all from Africa. Actually the only precondition for participating in the Dakar Fashion Week is exactly this: being African.
Creator of “Adama Paris”
All this started as a dream. The woman behind this dream was Senegalese Adama Amanda Ndiaye, founder of the promising “Adama Paris” brand. Her diplomat parents were in Kinshasa, DR Congo, in 1976, when she was born. However, they moved to France’s capital Paris when she was three years old and stayed there for a long time. Her life changed completely as her designs attracted more and more interest.  She currently lives between Dakar, Paris, Los Angeles and New York.
This excess amount of ‘travel’ makes the difference in Ndiaye’s designs. Calling these international cities her home, all of her creations carry the impression of the cosmopolitan trends she has witnessed throughout the years. At the same time, the fashion items showcase the designer’s own ‘African roots’. This, she believes, is what differentiates her. It is impossible to define a woman by only one characteristic, though. Inspired by her international fashion odyssey, the young artist’s creations reflect the culture and daily life of several global cities.
A brand new page in Adama Ndiaye’s life began when she saw that many Western designers are flocking to Africa to seek inspiration. If Africa could be the Muse of the West, then it should have its own fashion. So she came up with the idea of creating a ‘show’ for African designers to reveal themselves. Ten years on, it has become a major fashion event. Dakar is the new capital of fashion in Africa.
Handmade designs
All of the designs at the Dakar Fashion Week are really special since they are all handmade. “We don’t have big factories like other countries,” says Ndiaye and remains hopeful. Each year the fashion week turns into a new beginning for most of the African designers. It is also a net boost for the Senegal economy. When she looks back at the success of Dakar Fashion Week, it’s not surprising that she is full of both hope and pride.
‘Fashion cannot be our priority’
Senegal has long been one of Africa’s most stable and admired countries. It’s the only state in West Africa that hasn’t experienced a military coup. However, 2012 brought tension to this country. President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, decided to run for a third term in office. Clashes erupted, people claiming that Wade’s bid was against the constitution, and this drove Senegal on the edge of civil war. In the end, Wade was beaten at the ballot box in May, he conceded defeat and stepped aside for Macky Sall to become the next president. Though this peaceful political atmosphere and stability might be an example to other African countries, living standards in Senegal are still poor. Unemployment hovers around a level of 48 percent, while half the population lives below the poverty line. This means that every other person earns less than 1.25 $ a day. Furthermore, the illiteracy rate has soared to 61 percent.
All these facts fuel criticism against the Dakar Fashion Week that ended last Sunday. Many Senegalese criticize the event, saying that fashion should not be Senegal’s top priority. Most believe that the funds for the shows should have been budgeted for economic development instead. In a similar case of public outcry, the Dakar Rally, which ran from Paris to Dakar since 1978, was also under fire. The result was a change in the route of the rally to South America in 2008 due to security concerns.
Bombs go off in Nigeria
* Terrorist organization Boko Haram continued their terrorist acts last Sunday as to force the Christian population to leave the country. Three bombs went off back to back in different churches, killing at least 50. As the conflict grows between the police and the terrorist militia, curfew was forced in many northern cities in the region of the attacks.
Censorship of Sunday newspapers in Sudan
* Recently, the Sudan government banned three newspapers’ from distributing their Sunday attachments.
Al-Shabaab terror in Somalia
* Somalia’s Al Shabaab terrorist organization, which has been linked to Al Qaeda, is thought to be losing power. However, the latest suicide attack they organized in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu killed 2 soldiers.
Ethiopia’s ban on Skype
* The Ethiopian government has banned the use of Skype and GTalk, threatening anyone who dares to make a video call using these programs with a 15-year jail sentence.
Sanction threat to Sudan and South Sudan
* Even though South Sudan is going to celebrate the first anniversary of its independence on July 9, the clashes between the two countries are still ongoing. The UN Security Council threatened both Sudan and South Sudan with implementing sanctions if the neighbors don’t come to an agreement in three months’ time.

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