Has The “Coat” Finally Taken Over In Africa?
The insatiable appetite of the African consumer for anything foreign has been the major cause of our under-development and economic collapse. After 50 years of our flag independence, African leaders still borrow money to buy more coats and suits every year, while they abandon the indigenous textile industries to collapse. Where is the African fashion?
Everywhere you go in Africa, the “coat” is there. In the various offices, at the banks, on the streets, at the wedding ceremonies, the coat is there. Even in the churches, the coat has taken over from the pulpits to the pews.
Not to be seen at the African working environment
The coat has managed to hijack our way of life, our way of dressing and even our line of thoughts. The coat has hijacked the African churches as a whole. A preacher or a man of God is not to wear any outfit other than the usual suit and tie. Even at the various mosques here in Africa, we're beginning to see the coat show up gradually. Go to the wedding ceremonies anywhere in Africa and you are sure to see the faces of the coat beaming with smiles everywhere.
Hitherto, our chiefs were much known for their traditional style of dressing. But sadly today the chiefs are fighting hard for the coat as well. The last time I checked, even the honourable minsters for the Chieftaincy Affairs, cultural and Tourism ministers identify themselves in their offices by the coat! Ironically, our traditional leaders themselves no longer see the need to carry themselves about in our beautiful African outfits.
We continue to lose a huge percentage of our resource to foreign markets everyday due to our inferiority complex! Currently, our economy is still dominated by foreign goods and foreign fashion. If we don't wear the coat, we can no longer go to work. Even our engineers and the various professionals in the built environment always want to be seen in the coat. It is very rare to come across an African leader, business executive or the graduate worker who doesn't wear the coat on a daily basis. Yet, how many of these coat factories are located here in Africa? Everything is in the Western Europe or America.
The Coat Invade The Church
Many African preachers always go by the coat
Modern preachers are usually spotted cladded in 'designer' suits, well-tailored to suit their beer-infested pot bellies. To many Africans, this is the prescribed dress code for the preacher man. Many church goers are thus alarmed when an African pastor mounts a podium without his colonial coats. They believe every man/woman ordained to preach the gospel must never do without a suit. With this mindset, Pastor Mensah Otabil of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) was recently ridiculed for his 'un-pastoral' dress code. But what was Pastor Otabil's crime?
For those who know the man of God who also doubles as the chancellor for the Central University, Dr Mensah Otabil is one African preacher who never wears suits. Thus, some sections of the African public believe the pastor's style of dressing is 'un-pastoral'. Very strange isn't it?
In my opinion, I think we are still colonized! We are suffering from mental slavery.
Today if you don't have a coat or you're the type who doesn't fancy the idea of wearing one, you may likely not get a job. Obviously, during interview periods, many employers look for those wearing suit and tie! Consequently, if anyone shows up at any interview on an African soil without a coat, he/she is most likely disqualified from the onset. What a shame! Seriously the coat is failing Africa and am sad to say that most of us are guilty (myself included). Recently I was invited to be a speaker on one platform. However, I couldn't believe they wouldn't allow me the platform to speak unless l wear some coat. This poor African mentality is gradually destroying our local textile industries.
The “Coat” Is Under-developing Africa
African leaders and the coat
At the top of any government organization here in Ghana and many places in Africa, one is sure to find some “big men” cladded in suit and tie, watching the gradual collapse of the said institution right under their noses. Today, under the supervision of “men in suit”, Ghana's State Transport Corporation is now on a life support, perhaps, already dead I am not sure. Ghana Airways (GA) collapsed many years ago in the hands of men in suit. Even the Ghana International Airlines which was meant to replace the former Ghana Airways has also collapsed under the management of men in suit. The State Fishing Corporation is currently a distant memory. Abosso Glass Factory and Bonsa Tyres drew their last breath God knows when, and the catalogue is endless. Many of our local textiles industries have long collapse under the nose of 'men in suit'.
In spite of this, we have men-in-suit who usually demonstrate on paper, the best way forward in the management of our local industries. Yet, when given the job, they failed miserably, except their failure to don the coat. Why can't these men in suit manage to transfer such ideas into reality?
The threat posed by men in suit is not only limited to Ghana. In fact there are more men in suit in Nigeria than any other African country, despite the country's rich cultural heritage. Yet, not a single one of these coats were locally made. I am not aware of any suit factory in Nigeria, Togo, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Kenya and others. So from where do Africans get all these big coats that have dominated every single working environment?
If the African people are truly in love with the coat, at least we must begin to show our readiness to manufacture it here in Africa. By so doing, even if we were to lose our way of dressing, we could at least create jobs for our people and save ourselves from the burden of borrowing from the coat to pay for the coat.
The writer is a Pan-African analyst and the founder of the Project Pan-Africa (PPA), an organization that was established to unlock the minds of the African youth to take Africa's destiny into their hands. Email him at: [email protected]