Fashion is an important part of our identity as Africans and Afrodiasporans and with the increased interest in everything from head wraps to “Dashikis” to African print e-commerce, there is a very palpable cultural and economic opportunity to assert our identity in a global market. As wax print becomes increasingly popular across the diaspora, people are starting to take a critical look at whether “African prints” are truly African. A question that begets a larger conversation on cultural vs. operational ownership: can we claim that which we do not produce locally?
As an official event during the Year of Return Commemoration, we are excited to host this event to honor not only the Ghanaian cultural tradition but also African American contributions to textiles and fashion around the world, and how, though they are also not producing some of these fashion statements, they are claiming, and indeed beginning to reap, the economic and social benefits of their contributions--- much like Ghana’s burgeoning fashion scene.
The Wax Print Festival will be experiential and will include everything from wax print art exhibitions, to batik and kente weaving exhibitions and experiences, a fashion showcase and, the crowning event, a screening of the Wax Print film followed by an open conversation on its content. We believe that this event is an important way of pushing Afrodiasporans and Africans to be nuanced in their conversations about wax print and consider the multiplicity of ways in which, from cotton to textile to dress, we can benefit socially and economically from this industry. We hope to highlight important historical narratives that cut across both African and African American realities (ie. our relationship with cotton on the continent and in the US, the role of colorful attire as a means of expression and escape, etc.) as well as present iterations of fabric in popular culture and discourse, and future imaginations of what is possible within, and through the industry if wax prints continue to permeate “the culture” over time. We are excited to host this experience in Accra during the Year of Return and welcome all those interested in joining us for this event.