Fashion was born in Africa
By Ciku Kimani
One of my daughters has a natural Mohawk -- she has the cutest scattered hair, which is kind of concentrated in the middle of her head, from the front to back.
While I was agonising over whether to cut it into a nice bald style (the thought was quickly discarded), or let it continue with its sporadic growth, I remembered that one of today's hot hairstyles resembles my little girl's.
She would feel right at home in one of our trendy malls on a Sunday afternoon when teenagers are out in their droves.
Come to think of it, she would be right at home with the Turkanas, they still hold the Mohawk dear and methinks they look rather fetching.
All these hairstyles, including dreadlocks, and cloth trends originated from Africa.
Did you see Louis Vuitton, one of the worlds's renowned designers, incorporate the Maasai shuka in his designs?
What more proof do we need that Africa, indeed, inspires fashion?
Think of the G-string, that miniature fashion item so hated by big women for "deep sea fishing" (wink, wink), valued by slim women for its comfort and sexy feel, revered by men for its "I dare you attitude", and confusing to older women -- I will never forget the day my mother referred to it as "that little cloth for dusting shoes", huh? It was mine, I was hurt.
Online encyclopedia Wikipedia traces its origin to the native Americans.
I could refute that argument, but since in Africa we were cursed with the inability to keep written records, I do not have the upper hand on the argument.
Besides, we all know by now that Americans (well, not the native ones) have a way of running with an idea, even when it is obviously not theirs, but I think even before the native Americans discovered the phrase "cover the privates", Africans were wearing G-strings.
To date, some African tribes who have resisted "civilisation" still don them rather comfortably.
In our brain-washed minds, we might frown upon these people who still wear the unprocessed leather G-string but trust me, not so long ago, those not so far ahead of you in the family tree happily wore them everywhere.
What joy (and shock) I had when I once toured Lodwar -- men and women comfortable in their naked bodies, sagging or not. But I digress.
The art of wearing make-up is attributed to the Greeks and the Egyptians. This is easy to believe as they are on record for being among the first to keep records.
Egyptians feature greatly in the Old Testament, and that is proof enough that they decorated themselves, but even before Africans were exposed to the rest of the world (or is it before the rest of the world was exposed to Africa), they still dyed their hair.
The Maasai and the Turkanas still do it, and not with the chemical hair dye now available, theirs was pure ochre.
I once used it on my hair, what a bad idea! I couldn't wash it off for months, but it rubbed off on everything that came in contact with my hair, not to mention the smell.
Let's not even go into jewellery and multiple piercings and the painful looking tattoos from our Sudanese brothers in Sudan -- no one is going to convince me that they got that from the West.
I so subscribe to the theory that the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Fashion revolves as opposed to evolving -- nothing is new under the tropical sun, or any other sun.
The designers might try to convince us that they come up with new things every season, but all they change is the size of the models who seem to get smaller, probably the only fashion thing that did not originate from Africa.
Have yourself a fashion conscious day and pay homage to our African ancestors; Dolce and Gabbana have got nothing on them.