Redefining Youth Leadership in Africa

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Redefining Youth Leadership in Africa
Redefining Youth Leadership in Africa

By Mohammed Ohis Eroje

With bizarre statements like, ’Why the Elite cannot help Nigerians’ making newspaper headlines in Nigeria, a number of youths, who had already seen beyond the current prevailing gloom pervading the country’s economic space, have seized little opportunities available to them to embark on a number of leadership initiatives that will continue to impact the lives of many, not only in Nigeria but throughout Africa and the entire world for a very long time to come.

One of such highly distinguished youth entrepreneur, per excellence, is none other than Mrs. Queengold Daniella Sekibo, the founder and CEO of Bluepearl Services International, a fashion and design outfit that is not sui generic but in a class of its own.

Bluepearl Services International operates in Lagos, Nigeria, but runs with a broad spectrum of affiliations across the African continent and as far as the United States of America (USA).
Mrs. Sekibo who has, by her exceptional feat, traversed the continent of Africa with a presence in the USA, with her fashion and design business prowess, has proven that not all youths in Nigeria could be haphazardly and halfheartedly labelled as lazy.

Apart from effectively running and managing the affairs of Bluepearl Services International, Mrs. Sekibo had as far back as the year 2012, founded the African Fashion and Design Week (AFDW) which has paraded an assemblage of fashion and design experts from across Africa and America to showcase the very rare talents that abound in the fashion and design industry, in this part of the world.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the AFDW, Mrs. Sekibo said that, “As with the 2022 edition of the African Fashion and Design Week, each year’s edition serves as opportunity to recollect the memories of our year gone by, and cherish them again.”

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In her words, “the AFDW started 10 years ago with a focus on providing more retail access by designers to consumers globally, provide platforms for networking and celebrating each other in the African fashion and design industry from New York and Los Angeles to Nairobi, Accra, and Lagos, showcasing Africa in the most positive light.

Redefining Youth Leadership in Africa
Redefining Youth Leadership in Africa

She stated that, “Each year, African Fashion and Design Week draws international stockists, visitors, fashion entrepreneurs, super models, industry professionals, local and international media to preview the looks that will define the continent’s fashion trends. Hence, the AFDW runway has seen internationally acclaimed fashion designers such as Gavin Rajah, Mustafa Hassanali, David Tiale, Kiko Romeo, Kahindo Kaveke, Mahlet Afework, Raah and more fly the African flag.

Mrs. Sekibo pointed out further that, “Ten years can be defined as a kaleidoscope of the happy and best memories of my life, but hearing the testimonials of designers who have been impacted greatly through trainings that help them develop and establish strong brands, which empower them to earn sustainable living through stable income and creating job opportunities for others, is the fundamental key ingredient for this venture.”
Queen Sekibo actually conceived the idea of the African Fashion and Design event, as she revealed, out of a burning desire to make a bold statement with fashion brands that will resonate throughout Africa and the world, at large.

Adedamola Olaniran, representing Adebakare Coutre said, we are an awardee today, at the African fashion and Design Week because of our exquisite and quality fashion design works.
For them, the AFDW is a very welcome innovation because it does not only help to expose fashion designers to the world, it promotes our culture and distinctiveness. This is in terms of our unique fashion sense that is displayed.

For Kennedy Nana Afripong, owner of Afriken Coutre, a fashion design outfit in Ghana, he is participating in the AFDW for the third time. According to him, “the AFDW is very amazing hence I feature my signature, Afriken by Nana. And I am very proud to be a part of the 10th edition. It is a good platform for every designer and it is very glOobal. Really, it is a fantastic platform by any standard for the fact that your brand gets to go global; the fact that you are able to meet other designers and share what you have with the people in Nigeria, across the continent of Africa, and the world at large. It helps a great deal to promote our culture, promote our fashion in Africa, and makes us proud of what we are by pushing African fabrics and textiles to the global space.”

He added that “this is very significant to the extent that it will soon begin to discourage people from bringing in foreign fabrics and fashion wears, and we would then continue to cherish what we have. Hence, the AFDW initiative is something that should be largely appreciated and encouraged. It will also give every fashion designer a sense of entitlement as the forum

serves to expose their local fashion works at a global level, and this helps to increase patronage them throughout Africa.”

Nana concluded that, “the encouragement that fashion designers receive through the AFDW platform, will bring more designers to play in this area, thereby helping to solve the problem of unemployment in Africa.” Ghana’s Fihankra said, “today is my first time of participating at the event. I see the AFDW as a great platform for the promotion of any fashion works here, coming to be part of it.”

For him, “it is about time we started wearing our local fabrics. For us the young designers, we are trying to bring our culture back. This is because, the western world has been too much influence on us.

He stressed saying, “however, there is now a sense of purpose such that every time people wear fabrics that are locally produced, they are so proud to be Africans.

“For them, in the western world, they have everything and the technology required for making their fabrics, but for us, we use our bare hands to do our designs.
“But then, I believe in the future, we

will get the kind of machines and tools we need for our fashion design works. I do everything that has to do with embroidery, hands works and batik and they normally come out very fine as my own fashion signature.” Aulgah Nato, (a Communications and Public Relations personnel) was another participating and award winning fashion designer, at the AFDW from Nairobi Kenya. She said, “this is my second time of participating at the event. The first time was in 2017. I am happy to be here; I always come to meet with the people of Nigeria.

Aulgah stressed that, “the AFDW event is a very empowering platform that is poised to encourage young, upcoming designers. This is very uplifting, and it’s something I will always do”

She emphasized by pointing out further that, “Africa is the next hub of fashion in the world as everyone else is already running out of ideas. Right now, we are the ones that are shaping fashion globally, and we can only continue to hope for the very best to come.

Redefining Youth Leadership in Africa
Redefining Youth Leadership in Africa

In her words, “people should only go to school for the knowledge, not for the purpose of looking for employment. But fashion designing is available as an additional career choice, they can use it to create employment for themselves.”

This would in her view, “help to cut down and solve the problem of acute unemployment and youth restiveness, all over the continent of Africa.

She explained that, fashion helps to bring about a balance in the society,” stressing, “and I think people are dead without fashion. Hence, the AFDW event must be encouraged, and the youths must continue to do what they can to become successful in life such as in taking to fashion designing as a career. They should continue striving to do and fail, and do again till they are successful. Consistency is the key,” she concluded.

Fashion and Design exhibitors at the AFDW event included such top fashion brands as House of Gorgeousness, Stephnora, ioapparel, and Freshy Garments.

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