Mmesoma Okeke, a young but seasoned fashion designer and make-up artist, has urged the government and private organisations to make Ankara an official Friday wear in Nigeria.
Okeke, a 21-year-old undergraduate, who has been in the fashion business for over seven years, spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Wednesday.
According to the Home Science student of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, private and government establishments should encourage their workers to wear Ankara on Fridays to showcase our culture.
The fashion designer, who developed her talent at a tender age, noted that wearing of cultural outfits would boost the nation’s culture and tourism sector.
She said: “If the government can impress on the citizens to put on Ankara at least twice a week; by doing that, the rate at which Ankara is sought will increase.
“Not only that, it will boost the nation’s tradition and culture which would definitely attract tourists who love colourful creativity and designs into the country.”
Speaking on the acceptability of Ankara by youths, who already were used to foreign outfits, Okeke said right styles from designers would definitely attract the youths.
She said: “All we need to do is to promote the modern and right style that will soothe the taste of our youths, not necessarily promoting indecency as they would love.
“Ankara can be made into any form of outfit of choice and it would still come out unique.
“In fact, the outside world even values our Ankara better than Africans that own it.”
The young designer said the youth were moved by what they saw and not what they read or heard.
To this end, she said designers needed to go back to the drawing table.
She said: “We can show them wonders of Ankara through creative modern designs of foreign styles. The designers can create from scratch, not just beautiful designs but also unique designs never seen before.
“It will surely catch their fancy and gradually bring back acceptance to youths, not just Africans but the world as a whole.
“With time, it would be the most sought-after commodity worldwide.”
Okeke urged Nigerian youths to drive their minds back home with regard to culture and heritage, saying this would help them connect with one another and, therefore, boost the nation’s image.
She said: “We should not allow the western culture to corrupt our minds and dressings. By promoting their outfits, we are allowing them to downgrade our Ankara material, which is our culture, our heritage and our identity.
“Fashion is being beautiful and confident in whatever we are wearing and the only time we feel such strength is when we put on our cultural attires or Ankaras,” she said.
Okeke commended some government organisations that currently impress on native wears on Fridays and further encouraged others to take to this step.
Also speaking on her upcoming Ankara fashion show, scheduled to hold on July 5 in UNN, she said it would be a show of Ankara in modern designs.
She said: “My show would be a launch of the clothing brand with young models who haven’t modelled before and an opportunity for external designers to showcase their talents.
“There is also going to be a Waleeka Afrikaner pageant, an opportunity for your girls to showcase the beauty of African designs and their knowledge of Nigerian culture.”
Okeke said the show would tell 101 reasons why everyone should wear Ankara in a beautiful way and also make others hungry for such beauty being displayed in clothes.
“The show would be a display of African culture and arts in fabrics,” she said.