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Visual African Storytelling to the World

Storytelling of African Luxury
Photoshoot of men wearing Moshions SS22 Collection

In this step we are going to delve into the importance of storytelling across the African Continent in the creation of luxury artefacts from Africa.

From cave paintings in Nyero, Uganda, to virtual runway shows by Hanifa, African cultural expressions have always been steeped in visual storytelling. Cultural continuity and social order in African cultures have relied on evocative storytelling, either through words or images. This has remained part of the theme as Africa travels across the world.

Storytelling in Africa is more than just reading a story to an audience, it is a communal participatory experience where the storyteller and the audience interact, and both parties have rights and obligations. [1] It asks both storyteller and audience to commit to a journey that offers to share a lesson and/or experience with the hope that the participants will depart changed for the better, for not just oneself but for ones’ community. It is performative and immersive and is imbedded in the creative process of Africans; impossible to separate, for it forms the very foundation of every beginning. In Africa, storytelling is fundamental in the process of creation, it gives meaning, is an expression of belief and power, with a connection to ancestors, ancient earth and civilisations.

Moreover, Africa is a place in which luxury is meaningful and in which luxurious commodities, experiences and practices have long been part of the cultural, moral and physical landscapes that hold ancient stories all of its own. From the intricately hand-woven textiles of West Africa, to the monumental architecture of North Africa, Africa is rich in cultural and aesthetic forms of sumptuous materiality intertwined with magnificient storytelling.[2]

One of the greatest misconceptions is that of conspicuous consumption as viewed and practiced in the west compared to that of Africa. In Africa, a fundamental difference in consumption is generosity: the act of consumption is always communal and participatory, it is at the root of African culture, ancient and contemporary, there is a deep held belief that in order to receive one must first give and share, a belief passed from one generation to the next through folktales and practice, it is only in this practice that lies abundance.

In a world, fragmented and alienating, Africa invites the audience to participate in it’s luxury, generosity and storytelling. Platforms, communities and movements have emerged to formalise these stories in digital media. For a primer on African storytelling, check out the links below:

  • Platforms/Fashion Weeks ARTx

https://artxlagos.com/ GTB Fashion Weeknd https://fashionweekend.gtbank.com/

  • Communities and Clusters Design Indaba

https://www.designindaba.com/profiles Afrosatorialism https://www.afrosartorialism.net/

  • Leading Voices Daniel Obasi

https://www.instagram.com/iamdanielobasi/?hl=en Trevor Stuurman https://www.instagram.com/trevor_stuurman/?hl=en Asiyami Gold https://www.instagram.com/asiyami_gold/?hl=en

References:

  1. Berry, Jack., (1991). West African Folktales. Northwestern University Press, Illinois
  2. Edited by Mehita Iqani and Simidele Dosekun., (2019). African Luxury Aesthetics and Politics. Intellect Bristol, UK
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Africa to the World: Analysing the Global Appeal for African Luxury Fashion

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