So our mission for AfroApparel.com is to help redefine the African identity.
What does that actually mean, and how do we aim to do so?
When you hear the name Africa; you most likely – rightly or wrongly – associate with famine/war/death/corruption. Each continent packs its own stigma, but the ignominy associated with Africa is legendary!
The question is why? Why is my continent, why are my people, why is my race – considered less… ?
As I grow older, I am learning that sometimes, …sometimes, it is not about knowing why, but about knowing WHO. I think that taking the time to intimately know the WHO might reveal the motives, the consequences, and the repercussions, which illuminate the why.
We want to build a platform around the WHO’s that made/make up Africa, the unique identities that collectively inhabit the geographic area and their inter-relatedness.
We are calling the platform upon which we start to explore the WHO of Africa, AfroApparel’s Identity Project.
What we want to ultimately create is not dissimilar to what Relevant Magazine does. I realize that they have significantly more resources than we do currently – I respect their level of excellence. We want to carefully curate art (visual, auditory, and textual) which gives insight to the WHO of Africa. Not the normal, obvious, contrite, blasphemous, or self-aggrandizing narrative that is promulgated in the news. On the contrary, we want content that creatively provokes, emotionally stirs, and intellectually convicts the consumer – to get a real picture of the identity of a people/culture/nation.
The proposed format is this:
– Each week, we feature a country. We feature narrative that is current, relevant, and poignant. The aim is not to polarize. We want to be careful to avoid an overtly editorial approach (there should be a balance of “this is what happened/happens” v.s. “this is my opinion on what happened/happens”). Of course there will be exceptions made for compelling editorial pieces, but we’d prefer a documentary approach – “I went and this is what I saw” and maybe also “this is how it affected/affects me”.
An editorial exception would be something like what Adaeze wrote for Guernica Mag with her review of Efuru – “Good God! This could be my life. Had Nigeria not been colonized, these are things that I could be living right now!” – brilliant!
– Selling shirts is how we fund this venture, so we have to be mindful to ‘reverently’ pitch AfroApparel gear (which we plan to expand to include: posters, phone cases, hats, etc.)
– The week we feature a country, the shirts (and other merchandise) will be sold at a significant discount.
This is (obviously) still a work in progress.
But yeah, this is the plan. The idea is to crowd source this effort (because you know… it takes a village).
We are super optimistic because we have put in much work, and the response so far has been tremendous!
I hope my sons can look at this project when they struggle with their hybrid Nigerian/Peurto-Rican identities, and get a glimpse of how complex/beautiful/dysfunctional and ultimately profound their Nigerian people are!
God help us!