A Namibian Fashion Designer's Dream

12:19:00 AM


"It is with a very satisfied mind that I note the debate about the Herero Head piece. (Click Here to Read!). My initial purpose was specifically to aim attention to the Herero Tradition as a Namibian Tradition. People need to realize that International awareness regarding a specific tribe in an African continent does not get any attention without the raising of questions.   Mine being, if it is not ok for me to wear the Otjikaiva to my liking as a Namibian, Why is it ok for us to allow foreign nationals to recreate it and call it their own and had I bought the foreign national’s design and worn it again to my liking, would that sit well with us as Namibians?

My aim was, to raise attention in a wider circle on the Herero people who are my fellow Namibians.  While my fashion statement is not about making up other peoples' minds, I as a Namibian can at least get the word out there about what I feel is wrong and pay homage to the Herero People, and their tradition. While in fact, no one has said a word regarding a foreign national taking and marketing the idea of this headdress without referencing it’s origin and without a care because they do not have to. I will strive as a Namibian to raise awareness that this is a Namibian Traditional Piece and that is all I aimed to do.

Please stand with me to keep this traditional dress proudly Namibian first - I am proudly Namibian and it disgruntles me to see foreign nationals taking credit in the design of this very important piece of tradition, just as it has disgruntled so many to see me wearing it in a non-traditional manner. This is exactly what is going to happen if we do not allow our own to move forward with caution, yet allow foreign nationals in and happily show them who we are and think they will not be inspired to do what they do best. Recreate, commercialize and trend. It will be a sad day when you can buy an Otjikaiva interpretation from a retailer and it is not made in Namibia. There will be talks and people will be mad yet nothing will be done as we have seen with other crossover fashions that were inspired by traditional attires. 

I therefore encourage everyone to keep this debate alive - this is a Herero design, the Herero are proudly Namibian - and the headdress should not be marketed and sold by a foreign national.  This was the only narrative and conversation I wanted to put forward.

To my surprise, something I did to spark a creative conversation about protecting and creating our ‘Namibian Fashion Identity’- something we are struggling with at the moment and the reason our industry cannot contribute to our economy has turned into a social war; and it disheartens me that we cannot have an open conversation about our cultural differences without creating hatred. 

As for the disrespect; As a Namibian and as an African, I would never go out of my way to intentionally disrespect or tarnish any culture, and this is something I would like to stress. I believed in what I was doing for the bigger picture was to spark something deeper within my industry of interest and it disheartens me again to see so many hurt by it. This I assure was not the intent and for that I deeply apologize. I never intended to dismantle, make light of or change the culture and sincerely apologize that it has. 

In conclusion, I was trying to prevent and protect our culture and I say ‘our’, because we are all Namibian; by creating awareness of what is happening around us especially when it is in my industry of interest.  I would like to thank those who understood my plight and acknowledge and extend a heart-felt apology to those who felt disrespected in my process.  With that said; I would like to wish all Namibians a Happy Independence Day and hope that peace and love continue to prevail in our nation. 

Photos by Hildegard Titus
Details
Otjikaiva (the head peice): Mc Bright Kavari
Attire: Western

Styled by me for my plight. Disclaimer: (This is not the right way to wear this piece)
Click to see how to wear it!

Felt immense national pride wearing this.  Thank you Mc Bright for making it for me and understand the cause.

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