Jambo Africa Online’s Publisher, SAUL MOLOBI, attends the launch of Ken Ayere’s Afropolitan Caduals – a fashion brand rooted in the Nigeria culture – in addition to his Homebaze restaurant brand at the Sandton Square…

Arts and culture play a vital role in forging Africa’s integration by providing a platform for Africans to connect, share experiences, and celebrate their cultural heritage. Africa is a continent with diverse cultural traditions, and arts and culture are integral to the way of life of many Africans. From fashion, cuisine, music, dance, literature to the visual arts, the cultural expressions of Africa are a testament to the continent’s rich history and heritage.
One of the ways in which arts and culture promote Africa’s integration is by bringing people from different parts of the continent together. Festivals and events like the FESPACO Film Festival, the Lagos Carnival, Joy of Jazz and the Harare International Festival of the Arts provide opportunities for people from different parts of Africa to come together and celebrate their shared heritage. These events help to break down barriers between African countries, fostering a sense of unity and shared identity.

Arts and culture also help to promote Africa’s integration by showcasing the continent’s diverse cultural heritage to the rest of the world. Through literature, music, and visual arts, Africa is able to communicate its identity to the world, challenging stereotypes and promoting a positive image of the continent. This has led to the promotion of tourism and investment in African countries, providing economic opportunities and promoting development.

In addition, arts and culture contribute to the preservation and promotion of African languages and traditions. Many African languages are endangered, and arts and culture provide a means of keeping them alive. Through literature and storytelling, music and dance, and visual arts, African languages and traditions are preserved and passed on to future generations.

Moreover, arts and culture also play a role in promoting social cohesion and reconciliation in Africa. In countries like South Africa and Rwanda, art and culture have been used as a means of promoting healing and reconciliation after years of conflict and division. Music, theatre, and visual arts have provided a platform for people to share their experiences and promote understanding and forgiveness.
Arts and culture play a vital role in forging Africa’s integration. By bringing people together, promoting Africa’s identity to the world, preserving and promoting African languages and traditions, and promoting social cohesion and reconciliation, arts and culture are helping to break down barriers and promote a sense of unity and shared identity among Africans.

Nigeria’s fashion idiom as an expression of the country’s arts, culture and heritage
Nigeria – Africa’s biggest economy since 2013 – is a country with a rich and diverse cultural heritage. One aspect of this heritage that has gained widespread recognition in recent years is Nigerian fashion. The unique designs, vibrant colours, and bold prints have captured the attention of fashion enthusiasts all over the world.

The origins of Nigerian fashion can be traced back to the traditional clothing worn by different ethnic groups in Nigeria – with a population of over 204 million consumers. These clothing styles varied depending on the region, with each group having its own unique designs, fabrics, and colours. Over time, these traditional styles have been fused with modern fashion trends, resulting in a unique and innovative blend of traditional and contemporary designs.

One of the hallmarks of Nigerian fashion is the use of Ankara fabric. This brightly coloured fabric is used to create a range of outfits, from dresses to suits to accessories like bags and shoes. Ankara fabric is made in Nigeria and is known for its vibrant colours, intricate designs, and durability. Its popularity has spread beyond Nigeria, with designers around the world incorporating it into their collections.
Another notable aspect of Nigerian fashion is the use of bold prints and patterns. From animal prints to floral designs to geometric shapes, Nigerian fashion is known for its use of eye-catching prints that make a statement. The prints are often combined with other fabrics like lace, chiffon, or silk, creating a unique and sophisticated look.

Nigerian fashion has gained a significant following around the world, with Nigerian designers showcasing their collections at fashion shows in Paris, London, New York, and other fashion capitals. Some Nigerian designers, like Duro Olowu and Lisa Folawiyo, have even been featured in top fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle.

The global popularity of Nigerian fashion has also created opportunities for Nigerian designers to collaborate with international fashion brands. For example, in 2018, Nigerian designer Maki Oh collaborated with Italian luxury brand Bulgari to create a limited-edition collection of jewellery and accessories.

Nigerian fashion has also had a positive impact on the country’s economy. The fashion industry is a significant contributor to Nigeria’s GDP, with many designers creating job opportunities for tailors, seamstresses, and other artisans. The Nigerian government has also recognised the importance of the fashion industry, with initiatives like the Lagos Fashion Week and the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN) aimed at promoting and supporting local designers.

Nigerian fashion has come a long way in the global fashion industry, with its unique designs, vibrant colours, and bold prints capturing the attention of fashion enthusiasts around the world. The fusion of traditional and modern designs has resulted in an innovative and dynamic fashion scene that is gaining recognition and respect globally. With the support of the Nigerian government and the growing interest in African fashion, Nigerian fashion is poised to make an even bigger impact on the global fashion industry in the years to come.

Afropolitan Casuals occupies a home in Africa’s richest square mile

A Johannesburg-based Nigerian-born entrepreneur, Ken Ayere, has on Thursday evening launched a fashion store – which he aptly named Afropolitan Casuals – celebrating the beauty, grandeur and the rich tapestry of Nigerian arts and culture in the heart of Sandton – Africa’s richest square mile. Sandton is located in Johannesburg which is the capital of the Gauteng City Region (GCR). The province contributes 35% to South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – 5% more than the combined GDP contribution of the second and third contributors, KwaZulu-Natal at 16% and the Western Cape at 14%. This makes the GCR the 7th biggest economy in Africa – more than the economies of 48 African countries.

“The name Afropolitan is a portmanteau,” explained Ken during the launch. “It’s a construct drawn from two words: Africa and metropolitan”. Absolutely. Looking at the etymology of this construct, Afropolitan, is a term used to describe a new generation of Africans who have a strong connection to their African heritage while also embracing a global, cosmopolitan lifestyle. Afropolitans are typically urban, educated, and culturally aware individuals who navigate multiple cultural identities and are comfortable blending and redefining cultural boundaries.

The construct Afropolitan was first popularized by the writer and critic Taiye Selasi in a 2005 essay, “Bye-Bye, Babar (Or: What is an Afropolitan?)” in which she defined the term as “a new generation of Africans who are cosmopolitan, highly educated and fashion-conscious, and who are returning to the continent to start businesses, or to enjoy the culture, the weather, the opportunities.”
Afropolitans are often seen as cultural hybrids who blend African and Western cultural influences in their lifestyle choices. They may speak multiple languages, dress in a fusion of African and Western fashion, and enjoy a diverse range of cultural expressions, from music and film to literature and art. They are often politically and socially engaged, and they use their cultural capital to promote social and economic development in Africa.

In a nutshell, Afropolitan is a term used to describe a new generation of African diaspora who embrace a global, cosmopolitan lifestyle while also maintaining a strong connection to their African heritage. Afropolitans are culturally hybrid, politically and socially engaged individuals who navigate multiple cultural identities and use their cultural capital to promote social and economic development in Africa.

The Afropolitan Casuals launch was not just about showcasing Nigerian fashion, but also about creating a platform for African designers to come together and collaborate. It was an opportunity for designers to learn from each other, exchange ideas and create new designs that reflect the diversity of African fashion.

The event was attended by fashion industry professionals from both Nigeria and South Africa, including fashion musicians, actors, models, and celebrities – such as Sonwabile Ndamase, the designer of the Madiba shirt. There were also representatives from the media and online publications. Also gracing the event with their presence were filmmakers Firdoze Bulbulia and Faith Isiakpere; and Morakabe Seakhoa, the CEO of WriteAssociates and organiser of the African Century International Writers Awards.

The event was a celebration of African fashion, and it highlighted the creativity and innovation of African designers. The designers showcased their designs on the runway, with models strutting down the catwalk wearing beautiful and intricately designed outfits.
One of the standout moments of the event was the fusion of traditional Nigerian designs with modern fashion trends. The designers took traditional Nigerian fabrics, like the Ankara and Aso Oke, and incorporated them into modern designs, creating a unique and fresh look that is both African and global.

The event also provided a platform for emerging designers to showcase their work alongside established designers. This gave them exposure to the wider African and global fashion market, and allowed them to network with industry professionals, which could lead to future collaborations and partnerships.

The Nigerian fashion launch in South Africa was not just about fashion, but also about promoting African culture and heritage. It was a celebration of the rich history and diversity of African fashion, and it showed that African designers have the talent and creativity to compete on a global stage.

Overall, the Nigerian fashion launch in South Africa was a huge success, and it showcased the best of Nigerian fashion to the South African market. The event was a celebration of African fashion, culture, and heritage, and it highlighted the creativity and innovation of African designers. The event was a testament to the growing influence of African fashion on the global fashion industry, and it showed that African designers have the talent and potential to make a significant impact in the fashion world.

The yummy taste of Nigerian cuisine

The other brand owned by Ken is Homebaze – a popular restaurant brand Sandton Square complex and Parkmore. They have both become the go-to destinations for foodies, locals, and tourists alike, offering a unique dining experience that combines the best of African and international cuisine.

The restaurant’s decor is warm and inviting, with an African-inspired theme that is evident in the use of natural materials like wood and stone. The walls are adorned with beautiful African artwork, adding to the ambiance of the restaurant.

The menu at Homebaze is extensive, featuring a range of dishes that cater to all tastes and preferences. The chefs at Homebaze use only the freshest ingredients, with many of the vegetables and herbs grown in the restaurant’s own garden. The menu offers a mix of traditional African dishes, like braised oxtail and samp and beans, as well as international favourites like burgers and pizzas.

One of the standout dishes at Homebaze is the peri-peri chicken. The chicken is marinated in a spicy peri-peri sauce before being grilled to perfection, resulting in a tender and flavourful dish that is a favourite among locals. The restaurant also offers a range of vegetarian and vegan options, like the lentil burger and roasted vegetable pizza.
In addition to the food, Homebaze also offers a range of signature cocktails, craft beers, and a carefully curated wine list. The bar is stocked with local and international spirits, ensuring that there is something for everyone.
The restaurant’s friendly and attentive staff is a standout feature, with their warm and welcoming attitude adding to the overall dining experience. They are knowledgeable about the menu and always ready to offer recommendations.

Another great feature of Homebaze is the outdoor seating area, which offers a beautiful view of the surrounding neighbourhood. It is the perfect spot for a leisurely lunch or a romantic dinner under the stars.

Overall, Homebaze is a must-visit restaurant for anyone looking to experience the best of African and international cuisine. The restaurant’s warm ambiance, extensive menu, and attentive staff make it a great choice for any occasion. Whether you are looking for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, Homebaze is the perfect destination for a memorable dining experience.

Nigerian music gives a kaleidoscope of colours to Afropolitan’s fashion and also flavours the ambience at Hombaze

Nigerian music has a rich history dating back to the 1920s, with early pioneers like Tunde King and C.A. Balogun paving the way for future generations of musicians. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s, when Nigeria gained independence from British colonial rule, that the music industry really began to flourish.
In the 1960s and 1970s, a new genre of music emerged in Nigeria called Highlife, which blended traditional African rhythms with Western jazz and swing. Highlife quickly became the dominant style of music in Nigeria, with artists like Bobby Benson, Victor Olaiya, and Roy Chicago achieving national fame.

In the 1980s, a new sound known as Juju music emerged, which combined traditional Yoruba music with modern instruments and rhythms. Juju music was popularised by King Sunny Ade, who became an international sensation and toured all over the world.

During the 1990s, Nigeria saw the rise of a new genre of music known as Afrobeat, which was pioneered by Fela Kuti. Afrobeat was a fusion of West African rhythms, jazz, funk, and soul, and was characterized by its politically charged lyrics and energetic performances. Fela Kuti’s music was a form of protest against the corrupt government in Nigeria, and he used his music to inspire social change and revolution.

In recent years, Nigeria has become known for its vibrant and diverse music scene, with genres ranging from Afrobeats to hip-hop, R&B, and gospel. Nigerian musicians like Davido, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, and Yemi Alade have achieved international success, collaborating with artists like Beyonce, Drake, and Chris Brown.

Nigerian music has become a cultural force both in Africa and around the world, with its infectious rhythms, unique blend of styles, and powerful messages. The music industry in Nigeria continues to grow, and with new artists emerging all the time, the future of Nigerian music looks brighter than ever.

In conclusion, it’s an undisputed truth that Nigerian fashion, cuisine and music play a significant role in communicating the country’s identity to the world. Through fashion, food and music, Nigeria is able to showcase the vibrancy and diversity of itsq cultural heritage. Nigerian fashion, cuisine and music have become sources of pride for the country, and they have helped to promote a positive image of Nigeria in South Africa and around the world. Do you want to have the taste of Nigeria, adorn yourself with its look or serenade your partner with its melodies? Do visit Afropolitan Casuals and Hombaze at the Da Vinci in the Sandton Square complex.