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Is Dior's New Collection an Example of How Luxury Brands Should Incorporate 'African-Inspired' Designs?

Some are crediting Dior for "doing their homework" while others aren't quite as convinced.

Last Sunday, luxury French brand Dior unveiled its latest collection Cruise 2020, which fully incorporates West African wax print. They unveiled the collection during their first ever "destination show" on the continent—as the New York Times describes it—which saw the brand flying out several celebrities, including Lupita Nyong'o for a fully-branded fashion experience in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Naturally, questions around the creation of the collection and the appropriation of African styles began to arise.

Was this yet another case of a major fashion house ripping off African designs without involving actual Africans? Will these "creations" be sold for exorbitant prices without benefiting its originators? We've seen this happen with countless fashion labels in the past, including Stella McCartney, which faced immense backlash back in 2017 for ripping off styles that our "aunties had been wearing for years," as well as brands like Marc Jacobs, Valentino and Louis Vuitton—just to name a few.


Dior also faced backlash when they posted about the line on Instagram ahead of the show, calling Morocco the "leading country for fashion in Africa," according to a post from Nigerian-Chinese-Thai model Adesuwa Aighewi who walked the show. As the supermodel shared in an Instagram post, she immediately had a meeting with the label's Creative Director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, to discuss the issue, and she was met with a positive response.

"Honestly it felt really great about speaking up to just ask the simple questions. I couldn't walk a show where multiple Africans had voiced discontent," she wrote. "After our talk, Dior took down the original caption and made sure the conversation was about the preservation of fashion techniques that are being lost was the focus, artisans who need proper recognition for their craft and the need for a conversation between each other."

She added that the line has consulted African brands, like the UK-based gele expert Daniella Keji Osemadewa Ajayi to learn about the history of traditional garb during the line's creation.

"Discussions are critical to understand and move towards a positive future where there are less barriers and encourage an Africa where the artisans are properly treated and valued as they are in the West," she added.

It's always fair to demand transparency from big brands on matters of cultural exchange. As Vanessa Friedman wrote in The New York Times article "It is always dangerous for a European luxury brand to parachute into a continent with a colonial history," and with the fashion world's reputation of stealing from Africa, it's understandable that folks would be skeptical about any line from a Western brand claiming to be "African inspired."

Nonetheless, some online are crediting Dior for "doing their homework" while others stand by accusations of appropriation—proving once again that matters of cultural exchange and ownership are never easily black and white.




Photo credits: Deeds Art

Tems Is Just Doing Her Thang In New Music Video 'Crazy Tings'

The Nigerian songstress is hell bent on taking over your summer playlist and it's getting harder to resist.

It has been a fantastic year for Tems. The Nigerian singer, producer, and songwriter achieved a platinum record for eternal banger Essence, her collaboration with fellow Nigerian superstar Wizkid, an MTV EMA nomination for Best African Artist, a billion worldwide video views, and over 350 million audio streams. Not to mention featuring on Canadian rapper Drake's blowout album Certified Lover Boy, the singer has also sold out every show she's booked.

The release of Tems's sophomore EP If Orange Was a Place solidified her place amongst the greats and it was received with gusto by fans and international audiences. A month after the release the Afrobeats singer has graced fans with a sultry music video to go along with equally as tantalizing lead single Crazy Tings. Conceptualized by the multitalented Tems, and directed by UAX, the music video follows a sensual Tems as she sings about needing space from a lying partner.

International audiences continue to rave over the songstress, with Tems delivering an impressive US TV debut on late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! this month. Essence continues to top international charts. While becoming the official song of the summer, the track peaked on the Billboard 100 Top 10, becoming the most Shazamed song in the United States and was remixed by Canadian musical heavyweight Justin Bieber, becoming the first song written by Nigerian artists to hit No.1 on Urban Radio.

Tems has been producing consistent hits since her debut in September 2020, and a year later, the singer's immense talent is securing her reputation as a world-class superstar.

Check out Tem's music video for single 'Crazy Tings' below

Tems - Crazy Tings (Official Video) www.youtube.com

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Image: Getty

Eswatini Is Trying To Dethrone Africa's Last Standing King

Africa's last absolute monarchy is being challenged by pro-democracy protests and an army of youths ready to fight back.

Pro-democracy protests in Southern African country Eswatini (previously Swaziland) have intensified as police and army forces meet unarmed protesters with tear gas and water cannons. National anger and dissatisfaction with King Mswati III are not revolutionary and have been building up for years. Advocates say that the 53-year-old ruler has consistently ignored cries for reform and a move towards a democratic political system. Protests have been going on since June, however, the violence has increased in recent weeks.

For years, King Mswati has boasted a lavish life filled with private planes, expensive vacations, and designer clothing. He has ruled over Eswatini since 1986. King Mswati has denied the accusations of autocratic rule and of using public money to fund his lifestyle for years. In July, he called protests against his ruling "satanic" and bemoaned that the protests have taken the country backward.

This year's protests were sparked by Eswatini students, who wanted better learning conditions, free education, as well as a demand for political reform. The army was sent to "intimidate, but that has not deterred the students," Lucky Lukhele, spokesman for the pro-democracy Swaziland Solidarity Network, told the AFP news agency. On Saturday, the government shut down its schools "indefinitely with immediate effect" as the country faces a wave of protests. At least 28 people have been killed with countless arrests having been made throughout the weeks.

The King owns shares in all of the country's telecoms Eswatini shut the internet down for 2 hours over the weekend, and MTN Eswatini and other mobile network operators revealed that they have been told to suspend access to Facebook and its messenger app until further notice. "The business has implemented the directive and access to Facebook and Facebook Messenger has been suspended. ... We will continue engaging with the relevant stakeholders to minimize the impact and duration of the service disruption," MTN Eswatini said in a statement. They did not say why it had been told to suspend access to Facebook.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who currently chairs the security organ of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has ordered high-level representatives to fly to Eswatini to meet with the King to discuss "security and political developments".

Young Swazis have taken to Twitter to share their views on the matter:

Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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How CKay's 'Love Nwantiti' Became the World's Song

Nigerian singer and producer CKay talks to OkayAfrica about the rise of his international chart-topping single "Love Nwantiti," his genre-defying sound and the reasons behind this era of afrobeats dominance.