(This is an adaptation of an article written by Teresa Nanjala Lubano in another blog in 2013 – its still relevant today)
“It took Michelangelo 4 years to paint the ceiling and 6 years to paint the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel..”
It’s taxing to actually finish an important project at a set timeframe. It is the ‘malaria’ of many designers. For a specific time and date to be earmarked as the completion deadline for a masterpiece, I think, this is utterly a ridiculous venture.
Ideas should marinate… And most-times they take a while to actually morph and become the awesome works that they were envisioned to be. It shouldn’t be rushed. So is the Brand “Shop Nanjala”. It is morphing too, and as much as I find the journey slow and labourious (man-I-do-pack-some-serious-man-hours), it is imperative that whatever the end product will be, it should be one that has a rich milestone and one that I’ll take pride in once its complete. If ever!
Which brings me to the point that, I feel lucky to be born African. I’m living (the African Dream) in these interesting times of the 21st century where everyone thinks that they have a brilliant idea (though they secretly think everything has been discovered). I’m glad to be born and raised in a nation that has a vibrant cultural heritage, that has almost a limitless resource of aesthetic beauty and pride. An elaborate history celebrated by our ancestors and folklores/stories passed over generations and still is appreciated and celebrated today. Indeed it we as a race are special. We are Black. We are Beautiful. It is Africa’s time.
The growing success of African designers in their own right mimics the broader changes taking place in the continent as a whole. Trends mouthpieces say that even the West are throwing an eye at our cultural ques and rationally or irrationally adopting them into their designs, just to lay claim to African authentic influence. Ankara. Kikoi. Maasai beadwork. Kitenge. Turban. Dreadlocks. Safari. Afro mohawks. Tattoos (yes we had tribal marks before they became cool) and yes, Swahili… Na kadhalika.
I feel privileged to be born in this era, an era when we are at the precipice of our emancipation into being the center of global focus. A new Africa is emerging, increasingly prosperous (look at the eyeballs on the oil prospects in EA), which is shaking off the images of poverty, famine and war that had previously dominated the continent’s coverage.
Today, people are looking at us as a continent that is vibrant, creative, and most of all, neo-modern.
Recent years have seen an increasingly vocal crop of fresh young talent arrive on the creative global scene, proud of their African roots and savvy about today’s opportunities. I’m talking of people like Lupita Ny’ongo, Muthoni the Drummer Queen, Blinky Bill, Chimamanda, Gado, Patrick Gathara, Eric Omondi, Propesa, NairobiHalfLife, P-Unit, Ikal Angelei, Julie Wang’ombe & Sonko. These group of people/projects attest to this as true icons of Africa’s innovative progress.
Moreover, improvements in governance (A hail Mary for the coming *Elections to be peaceful), to flourishing real-estate and economic stability, to better access to technologies like mobile phones and e-tail stores, Africa and indeed Kenya is reveling in its increased prosperity.
With this fortune has come a newfound confidence, a growing pride to be African. Content being created is more than ever going ‘back to the roots’ and heralding our ethos as being BBB; black, bold and beautiful. Ghafla! Propertyleo. Tujuane. MulikaMwizi. Koroga. @KOT #someonetellCNN (that was cheeky); all these are authentic Kenyan content. As we embrace local, we are becoming globally recognized. Makofi
My hope and prayer is that Africa’s new potential grows. Blessing that for years to come, the energy of her people to continue bolstering and propel us to great heights as who knows, we might just be the next super power after China’s eminent reign!