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DIARY: The Fabric, The Model And The Mannequin

Choosing fabric is the most important step in sewing a dress. So I visited an Ankara store because that's my preferred fabric anytime everyday.

On one hand, I visited the store to feed my pretty eyes. And on the other hand, I went with a little hope to find something that fits my preference and matches my pocket.

Ankara Is NOT African?

"Hollandais is from Holland na." The guy at the store said.

That shouldn't have suprised me, because obviously, it is right there in the name - HOLLANDais. But for some only-God-know reason I was shocked.

It felt like I had a sharp pain in my chest. I think my head was spinning too.

"Is Holland an African country?" my head sure wasn't thinking straight when I asked.

"No ma'm." He was even kind enough to reply me.

At that point, I lost my head. 

Wait. Does that mean Ankara is NOT African? I am not understanding. 

I don't know the exact number of minutes it took me to remember where I was but boy, I was totally lost in thoughts.

The Fabric: Ankara

Wherever you see the ankara fabric, the first thing that comes to mind is 'African prints'. Yeah? But how much of it is authentically African?

Do Africans have any thing to do with the designs or even the name "ankara"?

I am personally shocked at the answers to these questions. Thank God for the internet. We can find answers literally at our fingertips. I found:
"Ankara was formerly known as Dutch wax print. It was originally manufactured by the Dutch for the Indonesian textile market. But, by mistake or design, these prints garnered significantly more interest in West African than in Indonesia. Recognizing this opportunity, the Dutch decided to focus on West Africa. As such, the prints changed to reflect African culture and lifestyle more." - Museorigins.net

"These fabrics were originally printed by the Belgians for the Indonesian market, but in their quest to create what looks like the Batik, some errors came up. These defects are what created the patterns of the Ankara, which the Indonesian market wasn’t so pleased with; these rejected fabrics were later sent to West Africa and the rest is history." - infoboxdaily.com


As I read more about the origin of "ankara", I discovered it's not authentically and wholly African.

Culture, they say, is that complex whole which includes believes, art, moral, law, custom and any other capability and habit acquired by man as a member of a society. Ankara is not African, but it is asscociated with the African culture. We have agreed to make the fabric our own. Abi? That's Okay!

Knowing how much I love to look African and how much I gush about the Ankara fabric, I am kind of heartbroken. Lol.

I will not be in a haste to call the Ankara fabric 'African' anymore, as I cannot say for sure how many of them are currently woven and processed at our local looms.

There are questions that beg for answers: how many Nigerians are involved in the labour force of manufacturing these fabrics? are we only consuming? what is happening to the Nigerian textile industry?

It's no secret I love this fabric. And I won't stop loving them because I just found out they are not originally African.

Related Post: Oga Shoemaker Tempted Me

The Ankara fabric is too beautiful, colourful and versatile to ignore biko.

The beauty and versatility is allowing me to evolve with my style statement and  accessories.

But seriously, if Ankara is NOT African, then maybe we should support some truly African fabric like Kampala, Adire, Batik, Aso-Oke . . .


And when I found my head, I finally said, "OK. I'll take this one."

P.S I also wanted to tell you the shocker I received from the model and the mannequin. But thought this post is a bit long for one. Will share in the next diary entry. Thanks for reading.

Did you know that the Ankara fabric is not wholly African?! Please tell me I'm not the only one who got played.

Posted by Nwamaka Ajaegbu 
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