Listed as 1 of 7 African diaspora women using fashion for change

©Rob Sheppard photography - V&A Afropolitans

Do you know of the Africa Centre in London’s Covent Garden?

If you don’t it’s a kind of home away from home for Africans in London. It hosts regular events of interest to diaspora groups, it sells books and other lovely products and it’s of historic significance. Despite this, it was revealed this year that the trustees plan to sell it. Leaders like Desmond Tutu and Ngugu Wa Thiongo spoke out against the sale and now the plans have been postponed by a year thanks to the hard work of the Save the Africa Centre campaign. Please visit their pages and sign the petition.

In conjunction with the many fashion themed events coming up at the Africa Centre this fall, Sheila Ruiz, programming and communications consultant for the centre put together a list of seven African diaspora women here in London who are using fashion for progressive change. I’m included :)

Anna Njie is the founder of Beauty in Business and she also organised Fashion4Africa at the Africa Centre last December. The Fashion4Africa showcase is a fundraising initiative that was inspired by a cultural study into African tourism, which helped to identify the amazing potential within the modern African textiles industries, African fashion, culture music and arts from all states of the continent.

Chinelle Anichebe is one of the organisers behind Africa Rocks. This year’s Africa Rocks Expo event will take place on Sunday 23 October, as part of Black History month as well as marking Nigerian Independence day celebrations. The main three themes of the event will be connecting with the culture, being inspired and opportunities in Nigeria. The country focus of the expo will change annually. Expo attractions will include Fela tribute, seminars, inspirational Nigerian panels, fashion shows, African arts & craft exhibition, networking sessions, music, high profile guests and more.

Denise Mahmud is a professional fashion designer and runs her own clothing company called Moixa Clothing. Denise also runs a parallel project called Mosaic which is a new home and lifestyle event that offers a platform for established and emerging businesses owned by African, African-Caribbean and African Diaspora to showcase and promote their products. Mosaic 2011 will be held at the Africa Centre on 15-16 October to coincide with Black History Month and celebrate the “International Year for People of African Descent” by showcasing the creativity, diversity and entrepreneurship of these businesses. Denise’s aim is to grow Mosaic in to an annual event.

Edna Kidd is the founder of Edna Kidd PR, a fashion PR agency. On Saturday 17thSeptember, Edna will be hosting a one-day event at the Africa Centre to coincide with London Fashion Week and to give designers from black, ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds a chance to be in the fashion industry spotlight. This event is also intended to take place annually.

Jacqueline Shaw is a professional fashion designer as well as an eco-entrepreneur. Jacqueline is organising an event at the Africa Centre on September 9th to launch her website Africa Fashion Guide and the complimentary coffee table book ‘Fashion Africa’ showcasing contemporary African fashion. Jacqueline conceived of the website with the focus to promote the African fashion and textile industry to the greater global textile industry. Africa Fashion Guide is a not-for-profit social enterprise and a one-stop shop for fashion professionals, students, retailers, magazines, bloggers and all those interested in promoting African fashion and the textiles industry to bring links between African designers, crafts people, manufacturers and textile designers and UK, EU fashion design companies and consumer markets, as well as with retailers worldwide.

Finally, there’s Minna Salami! Minna is a multi-talented woman who is a writer, media consultant and a gender and cultural commentator. She put together the ‘What is an Afropolitan?’ panel discussion and the ‘Rise of Afropolitan Fashion’ fashion show at the Friday Late Afropolitans at the V&A Museum in June. Minna runs an online shop called the MsAfropolitan Boutique which aims to showcase, promote and sell a hand-picked range of products made by African Diaspora women whilst also telling the stories of all the featured brands in an interview series.

I hope you enjoy the links, I certainly did.  The fashion industry can be so damaging to African women by creating media stereotypes etc. that I feel really inspired to know about these and many other projects that are using fashion positively. What do you think of using fashion to create change?

I’d also like to point you to to two other online shopping portals for sublime African fashion, and

  • ade

    Hi Minna,

    A couple of the links seem to come back to your website – both of the links for Jacqueline Straw’s work and the link for Mosaic by Denise Mahmud! Could you post the urls below? Thanks! x

  • anon

    Maybe it shouldn’t be saved.

    The lottery foundation has rejected the grant request for the windrush foundation and the trustees want to sell the Africa centre.
    Let them sell it and let them turn down the grants. In time, we will build something for us, by us which will not rely on handouts from orgs bent on concealing our entire history because of the ugliness of its part in it.

    I’m at the extreme end of the spectrum where I think progress is difficult when there is a monkey on your back. And when your very foundation can be shaken by those who attach little or no value to your core.

    My utopia, would be for a group to get together to build an Africa centre and donate it for diasporan use (lol.. I did say utopia right?)

    *Sigh* (if dreams alone were enough to create bricks and mortar).

    oh well, in this reality I’ll sign the petition and share the link. *we soo need a revolution*

  • POTO

    Oh, I thought you might like to know about a woman by the name of Jewel Pookrum. She’s not an average model, in fact, she’s a multi-talented African scientist. But happens to wear some of the fiercest African threads I’ve seen in industry today. I could just watch clips of her for hours and never get bored with her style…

    Some of the threads I am talking about are the ones she is wearing in Alien Dimensional Interface, which grabbed my attention. As well as on her kind of bio piece called Dr. Jewel Pookrum pt 1. And one other outfit I love was from Relationship b4 Sexships; love her sort of Asian hair piece. Honestly, I think she’s as well dressed as she is knowledgeable of true values on what we need to do. And she’s a great speaker if you give her a chance.

    • MsAfropolitan

      Haaa! Love it, thanks as always POTO. I’ll try to listen through also but first of all her style is uniquely fierce

      • POTO

        Appreciating diversity means understanding both the big and little things that help form a unique culture.

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