Over the course of this project, expect unique and exclusive contributions from those high-flyers from the world of fashion, including:
It is our custom to only reveal the identity of the contributors on the day their contribution is published, so to find out who will be #InTheO, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, G+, Instagram, or subscribe to our regular newsletter.
Those with fair skin go further. That’s the troublingly powerful message that my industry transmits. The entertainment industry disproportionately projects and elevates light-skinned women in magazines, films, music and commercials. If there’s a fair girl in it then it’s most likely she’ll be the lead – affluent, attractive, desired, rich and successful. I am not against light-skinned ladies being centre-stage or in the spotlight. I have personally used fair-skinned dancers and backing singers in my videos and live performances, not because of the shade of their skin, but because they had the right talent for the project. In an ideal world, opportunity should always come down to how good you are at what you do, not how light your skin is. Yet this ‘fair girls go far’ belief is so deeply engrained in Africa’s entertainment industries that a generation of impressionable young people are being driven to seek brighter futures by lightening their skin.
The African continent is blessed with ample natural resources, more so than anywhere else on earth. It is because of this that there remains a sharper focus on investing in the extractive industries. An understandable play. However, this focus often comes at the expense of Africa’s creative business potential. Even within cultural norms, young Africans are encouraged to follow careers in engineering, medicine, and accounting (the drill is now obvious), leaving the more creative and artistically-inclined professions deprioritised.
I’ve dedicated much of my life to advocating for the promotion, protection and renaissance of African artistry — its creativity, music, fashion, style, and every other element behind what truly is the genesis of African expression and image-based representation. What we wear isn’t just about looking good; what we wear is a silent (but very tumultuous) statement about one’s self, one’s heritage and one's way of life. In fact, fashion is one of the most poignant cultural storytellers of all time, innately descriptive of our nature, nurture, and state of being. Fashion is a grand ambassador that unaidedly speaks the most epic of universal languages, capable of influencing and positioning societies worldwide.
So, if fashion is a language, with a high-powered voice, whose tune is it singing in Africa?
If you’ve been plugged in to discussions pertaining to Africa in recent years, you’ve probably heard rhetoric aplenty along the lines of 'Africa is rising', 'Africa is the future', 'This is the new Africa' and other statements of a comparably rosy hue. Similarly, if you’re a lover of all things tech, you’ve probably heard – if you’re not one of the many tweeting it – that this is the digital era, technology is the now and the future (and other statements of a comparably rosy hue). Now pause for a second, if you will, and imagine the barrels of crude optimism pumping through the veins of someone who identifies as both a young African and a technophile. Given all this combined hype, such a person would be half forgiven for donning their dictator’s robes and embarking on a mission to conquer the planet (Google Maps app to hand - how else would we make it 100m down the road?), firm in the belief that the world really is theirs for the taking.