Anna Lukindo ( "Anna Luks")Christine Mhando ( "Chichia London"), Jacquilene Kibacha ("Heart 365"). Three stars who rock this week and not just by smiles but sheer sweat, nerve, brains and talent.
Pic by Urban Pulse Creative Media...
They say it’s been on high gears, since 1984 - twice a year- Milan, Paris, New York and here in London- February and September- promoting and showcasing skills, business and innovation. Whenever this gig happens, the paparazzi, modelling enthusiasts, fashionistas- are there to chronicle one of the best events in popular global culture. Yup.
London International Fashion Week is among four best on earth. And since last Friday, Tanzania participated- for the first time ever. I was witness. Not as a mere reporter and blogger ready to record the news, but also as a musician playing at our London Embassy where the reception was held and rejoiced. As I held my guitar and strummed melodic strings –a realisation surfaced that this was indeed a national and international celebration.
Opening the ceremony, Tanzania’s High Commissioner’s wife, Mama Joyce Kallaghe, told the throng of visiting fashion and wear lovers – that if they liked the work of our three designer ladies “they are welcome to visit Tanzania and see her tourist sights”.
High Commissioner Hon Peter Kallaghe (tall, centre) flanked with wife Joyce (first on right) and Deputy High Commissioner Chibaka Kilumanga (second left with wife, Irene and the two designers, Christine and Anna. Pic by Urban Pulse Creative Media....
Tell you what? Mama Kallaghe has not only been involved in the project- over the years- whenever you see her – accompanying her envoy husband or any other official and un official engagement- she is always dressed in batiks, vitenges, unabashedly colourful- an excellent promoter of Tanzanian fabrics and style. Who were the women she was referring?
Before we answer, tell me what you know about the words: “Ala Kumbe!”, “Zungumza!”, “Tongoza!” “Khanga” and reflect; for they are part of Kent University graduate Christine Mhando’s trademark. No wonder, she passed with Honours in 2002! Running her “Chichia London” tag her words are part of the DNA in the Swahili Flavour brand- a catch phrase for our designer’s participation.
Another campaigner of Tanzanian dressing (you just have to go through the Anna Luks blog to feel her burning zeal and passion) is Anna Lukindo whose label is Anna Luks. Equally educated ( also BA Honours ) from London’s Middlesex University- the Dar es Salaam born artist told the gathering audience she likes to celebrate nuances and rhythms of women in Tanzania- more Swahili words flew from her like rain- “dunia pana”, “kaba roho” , “buibui”- treasured lingo representing Bongo clothing culture.
As I stood beside the deputy High Commissioner, Mr Chabaka Kilumanga( who always talks on the importance of essential business tools i.e. branding), we watched incoming guests from the far East admiring the kanga textiles some of them joyfully adorning majestic Kanga garments. Now, hear me. These events are crucial. Taken seriously they may successfully steer us to heavens; by promoting the “Made in Tanzania” brand. Every nation on the planet knows that. Made in Tanzania would benefit : cotton farmers, artists and designers, shopkeepers, government institutions, the tourist industry, embassies, cabinet members, the President... almost everyone aboard this long chain would put Shilingis in their pockets, feed and send their kids to excellent schools. Education equals progress. Lack of education is what keeps Africa bleeding.
The guys running the biannual Milan-London-Paris-New York fashion gig know the magic of these events. They understand that Dollars and Euros come from appropriate branding.
And to carry on with our third designer.
Visitors from South East Asia with Christine Mhando, admiring and donning materials made from East African Khangas... Pic by Aaron Miclat...
University of New Castle graduate, Jacqueline Kibacha won the Accessory Award of the year in UK Fashions Finest 2012 and was finalist for UK Jewellery Awards Catwalk Jewels of the Year. Trading with the name Heart 365 Emporium- her stuff is about beauty, necklaces, bangles, embellishments - the hard-working Kibacha has taken time to travel to Maasailand to nourish her creations- she is not only a crafting artist, she writes – they call her London’s Pretty Poet. Tanzanian own talent. This was the motive behind British Council’ brilliant efforts. To “showcase emerging talents” from the unknown world.
Heart 365's work...inspired byMaasai Cultural heritage...
Heart 365's work...inspired byMaasai Cultural heritage...
A quote from British Council’s award winning Julian Roberts (highly experienced fashion designer and scholar) is worth noting: “London as a fashion design capital does not try to imitate Paris, New York or Milan...it is a place to take risks and experiment.”
So then, we have been part of an historical display hosted in 27 embassies, galleries and cultural institutes. A pleasurable project funded by the Tanzanian Tourist Board (TTB) and the High Commission. Tireless work was involved by unsung heroes behind the scenes, Rose Kiondo- the embassy co-ordinator, Samson Soboye-the fashion stylist also owning an East London boutique plus his team Leigh Odimah (Style Canteen) and manager Mike Puplampu overseeing the Swahili Flavour tab that has become our image.
And finally on Sunday we heard the news. London fashion awards put Tanzanian presentations among top 10 winners- led by Estonia. This is incredible news. We have immense potential. The more we empower our women (and citizens) with tools, education and support, the more chances for improving our economies.
Also published in Citizen Tanzania...on Friday 22nd Feb, 2012.
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