Made in Africa
Take a look at the tag on any clothing item, or technology. Certain names dominant; made in China, made in the USA, made in India, made in Korea. Where is “made in Africa”? Where “Africa” means owned and controlled by native Africans, and “made” means the cultural expression of African people.
The challenge before us, in the development struggle, is transforming the models of liberation from marching, boycotting to more practical economic models such as ownership. Where we create and own wealth creating systems and use the power of the products we create to transform our world culturally and politically.
A new Africa means a new economic model which redressing one of the most critical dilemmas facing contemporary Africa—poverty. While the roots of poverty in Africa are well studied and debated to the point of exhaustion, one thing is clear; Trade is better than aid for a sustainable future of any community, country or continent. Africa has to end the cycle of being only a source of the World’s raw materials, buying back what it exported at a premium. The development of private business enterprise at every economic level. Africa must be competitive not only in pricing but also in innovation and quality.
The African Development Bank continues to reiterate that low manufacturing and processing capacity is a major limiting factor for trade among African countries. Intra-African trade in manufacturing declined from 18% in 2005 to about 15% between 2010 and 2015. A decisive move would be a shift from raw mineral resources to high-value semi-processed and processed exports through a commodity-based industrialization process by adding value to domestic products. For every $1 of aid that developing countries receive, they lose $24 in net outflows. These outflows strip developing countries of an important source of revenue and finance for industrialization and development at large.(source)
When it comes to Africa’s own cultural expression there is no shortage of innovation. What is causing a problem is Africa’s failure to capitalize on its own cultural innovations to create tangible finished products for a global market. This then translates into lack of options from Africa's genius, which means all we see is Asia, American and Europe at the consumer end. And since people must use final products for living the only convenient options are those from the manufacturing industrial giants with the distribution power to out do even locally made products.
Why should African people purchase designer brands from Europe and America? Like Hugo Boss and Calvin Klien—at exorbitant prices? Is there not enough artistic cultural expression to innovate, as Europe has done, an African designer brand? The problem here is one of the failure to capitalize on culture and the lack of capital to invest in such projects to produce viable alternatives to the fashion houses of Europe. So what actually happens in this failure to develop the cultural capital means others, from Europe and Asia, with capital, can and will come and exploit Africa’s cultural innovation for their own economic development. So today, most of the “African flavored” fabrics, apparel, etc might bear the name “Africa” but 90% of them are not made in Africa, or owned by Africans.
Aid is death, it stalls the future of a people, it creates dependency. Why would the richest continent, with all of the mineral resources and intellectual and cultural wealth be the poorest continent? Clearly, something is wrong. How could such 60,000 of self-sustaining cultures and economies now be in need of so much aid? Aid, which does nothing to free people from being dependent on ‘the other.”
Despite the variety of African clothing, the concept of shopping for it online is still a novelty. Ocacia is a designer brand, priced just right, to fill this gap in the market. It is time African people globally start wearing their own culture and creating industries around it. And it is critical to call out a trend in America where Made in China is branded as African labels and sold under the banner of Black Business. How is this progress? How is giving China your manufacture to make your brand products something to be proud of? It is a lazy anti-development approach.
Ocacia is an African company, which is owned and operated in Africa, 100% by Africans that innovates Ancient African cultural aesthetic to create contemporary African clothing apparel. Engaging and employing local African tailors and designers it creates a new market for African designs which are unique in being prêt-à-porte (ready-to-wear) but also haute couture at sometimes. People purchasing these unique African clothing are 1. Getting high-quality unique African clothing 2. Supporting and promoting Pan-African culture 3. Fostering industry 4. Reversing the trade deficit. 5. Creating opportunity for further development of similar projects. And we must remember before Africa can make planes, we must make cars before Africa can make cars we must learn to make bicycles. But before we can even think about making bicycles we will always need support for the bicycle industry. Without the initial support for the bicycle industry, we cannot start a conversation about cars, let alone bicycles. Everything comes in stages, and the first stage is support for what you see existing before you. These industries will continue to grow, creating more industries such as more local fabric factories, and maybe even local sewing machines, etc. But it has to start somewhere and that somewhere is with your choice to support.
Made in Africa is therefore the language of a future generation, which is walking away from the old image of impoverished and creating a new image of Africa. An Africa, which can do for self, innovate and be competitive in this globalized world.