The ankara fabrics that we most popularly refer to as “African prints” were not initially intended for “Africans”. When I first found out, I thought “Oh really?😕 Oya continue.” Again, Dutch colonialists imitated Javanese batik to undercut the Indonesian fabric market. Inferior quality caused them to be rejected by local Indonesians so soldiers recruited by the Dutch to Indonesia brought home these imitation fabrics and they were widely favored.
They touched base in Ghana and have been popular ever since.
Okay, so what are you saying? That “African prints” are not really “African” since they’re not made in… wait for it, “Africa”? 😩Well, yes and no.
The oldest and arguably the largest producers of of anakra prints are by Europeans (or knock offs by Chinese convo for another day) despite the majority consumer demographic being African. It’s depressing and I felt that everything I believed in/stood for was lie. Knowing the fabrics I attached much cultural value to, that the world used to define “African” culture was dictated by and fed the economy of another was mind fucking on too many levels. The beneficiaries weren’t even native to the continent. I had a headache thinking, “nahh dis tew much” 😔😖
Okay, back up but the fancy/wax prints are African since they do reflect the diverse cultures and histories. Without the people and their stories, wax/fancy prints wouldn’t exist on the scale they do today. Industrialization/capitalism is a blessing and a curse but in as much as the culture makes the people, the people also make the culture. It is messed up that the big players in the African textile industry aren’t natives but all hope isn’t lost. Ghana produces beautiful and high quality batik fabric and there are several other fabrics that exist outside ankara fabric.
They’re just yet to be talked about.
I found myself in a dilemma because I love African prints, they’re all I care about but I was being unfair. People think it’s a trend but I believe its way more. A lifestyle.
My bio says “promoting the beauty, diversity and versatility of African prints.” While I was promoting the beauty/versatility, the diversity? Not so much. African prints are more than fancy/wax prints; mud cloth, kente, ishweshwe, adire, aso oke etc. I love photography/editorials and I’ll continue w/ those but there’s so much I have to learn about this industry, I’m passionate about. Thus, as I learn, I’ll share and I hope you’ll help me too.
Shit’s about to get real lol.😅