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The truth about being African versus dressing African

In the age of hypersensitive social media wokeness, we are quick to shout “cultural appropriation” every time an international fashion house reimagines African aesthetics and bill it as “a modern high-fashion interpretation of ABC”

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In the age of hypersensitive social media wokeness, we are quick to shout “cultural appropriation” every time an international fashion house reimagines African aesthetics and bill it as “a modern high-fashion interpretation of ABC”.

Artists from various fields have since the beginning of time been inspired by someone else’s work. “Good artists copy, great artists steal,” renowned painter Pablo Picasso once said.

At the other end of the table, someone is screaming stop making narrow-minded views about Africa and trivialising sacred parts of our culture.

This is a multiplex debate that needs a roundtable discussion with industry pundits and perhaps moderated by social activist Lebo Mashile.

Landing me to my next pit stop. In rocking African traditional clothing there is a blurry line between fashion and costume.

Fashion is about freedom of self expression, thought-provoking drama and nodding your uniqueness. Society doesn’t always have to agree with it, because sometimes bold fashion statements can shock the eye.

Costume, on the other hand is monotonous, lacks imagination and is boring.

Two South African rappers proudly showed off their South African stripes last weekend at the BET Awards in Hollywood and created polarising views on fashion.

One kept it all the way African (Sjava), while the other tried a more modern approach (Cassper Nyovest).

Whether you cringed or ululated with joy as a barefooted Sjava accepted his gong in his Zulu regalia, we can all agree the moment was an unapologetic blast of African pride. Without opening his mouth, he had told a story with his look.

You cannot accuse Sjava of being gimmicky in order to hog headlines. He simply kept it real, the world just happened to have its eyes on him.

Fashion commentator Felipe Mazibuko reiterates why this was a historic fashion moment. “We get different inspirations from different places depending on where our mind is.

“If you feel like tapping into your own culture and making that your career path, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. As long as it’s done in a proper way,” he adds.

“[Sjava] has always dressed in that kind of regalia and we are used to him representing his aesthetic that way. When I saw him he looked like himself and didn’t get lost in regalia. Kudos to him.”

But if there is anyone who had us lost in translation, it was Nyovest in his monochrome leopard print layers. If fashion is about making a bold statement, then what statement was he uttering? I’m a cartoonish version of Eddie Murphy’s character in 1988 urban cult film Coming to America.

He completely lost many and fashion designer Paledi Segapo paints a picture of why it’s so. “With Cassper I feel like it’s an attempt that almost worked, but it was kind of missing an element that made it outstanding.

“As a creative I looked at it and I saw where the concept was going, but I think it failed to reach there,” he said.

“It kind of translated into a hurried costume made at the eleventh hour. I suppose they were trying to reference Africa.”

TV personality Nandi Madida is a perfect example of how when given a fashion theme such as Wakanda Forever, you can interpret it without looking like you just stepped off the set of Black Panther.

At the awards, Madida donned a midriff-baring ensemble from her label Colour inspired by African beadwork. Ahead of her appearance, we had an insightful chat on keeping it simple.

“It’s always great to see people’s take on a theme like Wakanda, but hopefully they don’t take it literal. So I’m hoping to see more than tribal prints,” Madida said.

Commentator….Emmanuel Tjiya

Strictly Personal

We are in a leadership crisis by Abraham Simpamba

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Zambia is not personal to the holder, it is a sovereign state hence there is no monopoly of wisdom and knowledge it calls for concerted efforts to govern in order to develop this great nation and not a one-man show or a business entity aiming to make profits.

It’s been a year, and some months now Mr. President and you have confirmed that one year is enough to make progress and threaten those in the system to have them replaced, citing that they are frustrating the process.

One thing you must understand is that, the moment you took the oath of office you told the country that you have inherited an empty coffer. Hence, the big question begs an answer. How many international trips have you undertaken so far and at what cost? With a view that you are marketing Zambia as if Zambia is a new country which is not known, yet the country has been in existence for 58 years now.

While the country is still grappling with so many challenges, for one year now without progress to uplift the social welfare and living standards at the list in one year we would have seen some improvements in some of the areas below;

  1. In the health sector, where there is no Medicine and the situation is getting worse every day.
  2. The high cost of living.
  3. Agriculture sector farmers are not getting enough farming inputs starting from last year’s farming season.
  4. Energy sector where we have been slapped on our faces with high fuel prices and electricity tariffs, and pending load-shading which was claimed to have finished in one year.
  5. The highly pronounced 25.7 million CDF has no effect on the ground.

Looking at, the above hardships, your excellence how do you expect the system to respond because those people in the system are not immune to the hardships above? Or maybe those in the system are the ones influencing the monthly fuel pump price hike and the high price of farming inputs and other commodities on the market?

The introduction of free education and making desks in schools also the employment of civil servants it’s a good thing but does not mean you have given the Zambians all that it takes for us to survive. Moreover, when you talk about free education I could roughly say 80% of the people in urban setups are taking their children to private schools meaning they are not beneficiaries hence the high cost of living is affecting everyone.

What we need is to revamp the private sector which is the major employer because it plays a major role to build the economy unlike what you have done to give tax holidays to mining firms because whatever little we used to realize it was important to the growth of our country’s economy.

Hence blaming and holding those in the system accountable that the system is not responding simply shows that you are lacking what it takes to take this country to higher, highest. And the question is, why can’t Zambians hold you accountable as well? Because you are the CEO of this great nation mother Zambia to me it’s like you are the one who’s failing the system with your excellence.

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Strictly Personal

Yes, Aisha Buhari eats from poor people’s money! By Festus Adebayo

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Though the wife of the Nigerian president, Aisha Buhari, has discontinued her defamation case against Aminu Adamu, the final year student of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, the court of public opinion cannot afford to throw the issue into the dustbin. In what was the Nigerian First Lady’s most recent controversy, having allegedly ordered the arrest and detention of the university student, massive flaks against her and the futility of continuing the matter, it was said, must have necessitated the withdrawal of the apparently dead-on-arrival matter.

Aside from the above, the concept of the First Lady and its implications for the social health of society today deserves to be re-examined. The cliché, “behind every great man is a great woman” has led political scientists, psychologists, sociologists, and philosophers to look intently into the texture of the characters of spouses of rulers of the world. This is because, mere concentration on political actors and their policies have failed to unravel, in many cases, why they behave the way they do. With the arrest, detention, and alleged torture of Adamu on the orders of Mrs. Buhari, the question of who Aisha Buhari really is has been more compelling. Is she a villain dressed in the robe of power or a victim of the icing on the cake of power?

On a Twitter post, Adamu had attributed the bloat in the physique of the First Lady to and symbolizing excessive romance with the Nigerian national pot of soup. Adamu had specifically tweeted: Su mama anchi kudin talkawa ankoshi, which translates to “the mother has gotten fat on masses money.” He accompanied this tweet with a puffed-up picture of the First Lady. Piqued by what she must have considered a plebeian audacity, Aisha was reported to have ordered the young man’s arrest and his rough parceling to the Nigerian presidential villa, where he was allegedly tortured and remanded in prison,

The truth is that the First Lady and the Nigeria Police who charged Adamu for defamation by his tweet, perhaps due to the many decades of military rule, do not understand the proper concept of democracy; nor do they have a whiff of what representative democracy is all about. When purged of all the unnecessary icing of its highfalutin definition, representative democracy, which we practice in Nigeria, is a give-and-take concept. Also known as indirect democracy, it is a type of democracy where elected people act to represent a group of people. It is a system practiced by nearly all western-styled democracies, its typical examples being the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Broken down to its granules, in representative democracy, the people, aware of the disorder it would have meant for everybody to be in parliament and Government Houses at the same time, place the power to govern them in the hands of their representatives who they elect in a periodic election ritual.

Representative democracy has its origin in the Roman Republic, which was the first known state in the Western world to practice it. Romans sold this system to the world in which, though supreme power lay in the hands of the people, they ceded this power to their elected representatives who then wield the power on their behalf. In most instances, these are representatives who are felt to have superior knowledge of administering society or who possess some rare qualities that are not found in the generality of the people. The people however reserve the power and right to withdraw such powers in the form of recall from the parliament and impeachment of this erring representative by their representatives in the parliament.

To focus the attention of these representatives on the business of governance, the people make available to them some measure of comfort which they get from their consolidated national pool, their national patrimony. The house built in the people’s name and with their resources, which is christened Government House, is made available to these representatives to live in, free of charge. The ones who could not live in this house are rewarded in cash called Housing Allowance. It is not because they are more entitled to live therein than the people who they represent. They also eat free food, paid for the patrimony of the people. For their time which is sacrificed, they are paid salaries and other allowances. The health and well-being of these representatives are the bothers of the state. Thus, in many democracies, they are treated free of charge from the pool of the people’s money. In fact, so that they are not distracted, the state also pays for their children’s schooling and their wives’ comfort. The representative needed not to be distracted looking for food, and shelter, and bothering about the wellbeing of his spouse. So the state caters to virtually all the family members of the representative.

In the 2023 budget estimate, the offices of Aisha’s husband, President Buhari, and his Vice-President, will spend the sum of N11.92 billion on local and foreign trips, as well as on the presidential air fleet. It is inclusive of the sum of N1.58bn which was earmarked for aircraft maintenance and another N1.60bn which was allocated for the overhaul of the Gulfstream GV and CL605 aircraft engines of the presidential office. In the same vein, the Office of the President was slated to spend N2.49bn on local and foreign trips, and the Vice-President’s office, N846.61m. Fuelling of these aircraft, according to the budget, will cost the Nigerian taxpayers which comprised the poor and the rich, the sum of N250m, while N650m will be spent to purchase a new mobile helicopter landing pad.

In the same budget, the sum of N40.45m was penciled for the construction and equipping of a new presidential kitchen and a total of N508.71m to be spent on foodstuffs and refreshments, an amount which stands at N331.79m and N176.92m for the offices of the President and Vice-President respectively. I am not aware that the above sums emanated from the private wealth of Mrs. Buhari’s husband or from the proceeds of his cows in Daura. She can only be allowed to claim that she had not eaten the poor people of Nigeria’s money if any of the amounts earmarked for the Villa feeding and comfort does not have her participation in them in the last seven and half years.

It was this same Mrs. Buhari whose daughter, Hanan stirred the hornet’s nest when she was conveyed by the Presidential jet to attend the Durbar in Bauchi. By Nigerian governmental convention, it is only the President, First Lady, Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, former Presidents, and a Presidential delegation, are allowed to use the Presidential jet. It will also be recalled that, in that year’s budget, the amount voted for the Presidential jets was N8.5bn. Hanan, who graduated in Photography from Ravensbourne University, London, was said to have gone to Bauchi on a special invitation as a special guest of honour of the Emir of Bauchi, Rilwanu Adamu.

Photographs of her Hanan disembarking from the presidential plane and being welcomed by Gombe State officials went viral around this time. The Emir was said to have invited her to the Durbar so that she could take photographs of the celebration, Bauchi architecture, as well as some other cultural sites in the state. While Mrs. Buhari’s daughter was engaged in this unconscionable abuse of office and waste of taxpayers’ money by this act, it beggars belief that the same woman would be miffed by the allegation that she was chopping poor Nigerian people’s money. Before getting into office, her husband, then Major General Buhari, was trenchant in his criticism of the Goodluck Jonathan government and the ones before him, for expending public funds on unjustifiable things.

For all our food and the comfort of our collective home called Aso Villa where she lives, all we ask from the First Lady is tolerance. She would only have had a defence in court if she could present verifiable and irrefutable evidence that she spends her personally earned money and not money belonging to the poor and the rich of Nigeria, to feed herself in the last seven and half years plus. If she could not, she would lack every right to litigate against a 24-year-old Nigerian who claimed that the Nigerian people’s money, with which she feeds, must have been responsible for her bloated physique. She might however have had a defence if she could provide evidence to show that she recently acquired sheppopotamus-size image – apologies for the nil discretion in an earlier statement by Prof Wole Soyinka so describing Mrs. Goodluck Jonathan – was as a result of a health challenge and not from proceeds of Nigerian people’s money which she chops legitimately.

With an apparent dearth of Paparazzi journalism in Nigeria, the type that unearthed several hidden details of Princess Diana’s liaison with her Arab consort, Dodi Fayed, scholars must rise to the people’s rescue and begin to piece Aso Villa jigsaws together. Perhaps by so doing, they could arrive at the current frame of mind and fitting psychoanalysis of the office of the First Lady under Buhari. Except for photo-op sessions, there have been allegations of no love lost between Aisha and the Nigerian president. Specific suggestions have even sidled into public discourse that the First Lady does not enjoy spousal attention from her husband.

The first absurd manifestation of this in the public was Mrs. Buhari’s open antagonism and criticisms of her husband’s government in the early years of the administration. This was so notoriously manifest that many people concluded that if indeed the couple lived together as husband and wife and indeed shared affection, she could have offered those pieces of advice in the presidential closet. In 2019, while appearing on a Lagos television show, Aisha was asked why she was always criticizing her husband in the public rather than having “pillow talk” conversations with him that symbolizes spousal affinity and interaction, she replied, “there is no pillow in the villa. No,” She however attributed this to their busy schedule.

Again, the brawl at the Villa between her and the leader of Aso Rock’s cabal, Mamman Daura, revealed an ugly underbelly of the relationship between Aisha and her husband. What came to the limelight was that the two live in different apartments in the Villa. The brawl between Daura’s daughter and the First Lady showed that there was an attempt to de-room Mrs. Buhari in favour of Daura’s daughter. On top of this, a couple of years ago, the First Lady packed her belongings out of her «matrimonial home» and made the UAE her home. These absurd revelations should interest scholars of the social health of Nigeria’s seat of power.

The psycho-analysis would need to be made of these mis-matrimonial manifestations in the First Family, so as to decipher whether Mrs. Buhari’s current fly-off the handle had a direct correlation to her matrimonial frustration. It was the same despotic disposition that Ondo State people saw in Feyi George, wife of their military governor, Naval Officer Olabode George, in the 1990s. The “couple” had left office before it came to the fore that that marriage was for the press and in actual fact, the two actors were miles apart and merely acting marriage. Scholars would thus need to help us unravel whether Nigerians are witnessing another marriage of convenience between Aisha and her husband, the Nigerian president. If this is it, we may then begin to see a connection or corollary between some disjunctive manifestations in power at Aso Rock and this spousal spat.

No woman would live with a fib that intent analysis of Aso Rock matrimony portrays as a presidential family without an occasional urge to bare the fangs of a tiger. It is not unlikely that what the world saw in the Adamu tackling was an attempt to grasp at a straw which the “power wielder” mis-perceived as power through that unnecessary anger at Adamu. This is because Mrs. Buhari looks too charming and matronly to behave in a manner that could only have been advertised by Mrs. Idi Amin Dada.

What Mrs. Buhari did with Adamu was a crude and naked abuse of power. If she wasn’t wrong by her act, then our fathers and mothers who died in the bid to dethrone military rule and embrace democracy died in vain. People died and were maimed for us to be where we are today, the courtyard of free speech. Free speech can only be checkmated by defamation and not the baring of a wolf’s claws. It is the antithesis to use the democratic office to harass anyone like a despot. Why what Aisha Buhari did to Adamu was an oxymoronic tragedy to the Nigerian people that, by that act, she got our people to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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