There’s nothing that makes you more self-reflexive than going back to your birthplace. Nigeria has got me thinking of the different ways I’ve been influenced by my heritage, while trying to figure out how I can give back to my country. Since this trip has shown me a much more modernized version of Nigeria than I’ve seen on previous trips (I mean, I’m writing this post from a hotel with continuous wifi… honestly didn’t know that existed!), I’ve also been thinking about the growth and modernity of Nigeria in relation to my own personal growth. Call it somewhat of a mid twenties crisis, but I’ve just got all these thoughts about my purpose and identity!
Top: Strawberry | Skirt: Custom-made from ankara bought in Nigeria | Jewelry: Guess watch, bracelets from Kenya | Shoes: BCBG Generation via DSW | Hair: Shannon of Loop Salon, Atlanta | Photography: Kaye of 7th Street Studio
So what’s a modern African woman? African prints like the ankara one I’m wearing in these photos have definitely made it to high fashion, showing up on runways and celebrities over the past few years. Truth is, Africans have been wearing their traditional clothes in modern ways for years. It’s standard practice in the village for my grandmother to wear a t-shirt and an African wrapper on a daily basis, so this whole white tee, ankara print skirt thing I’m doing isn’t a new concept.
What’s new is that African prints are being used for more Western clothing shapes: skirts, crop tops, jumpsuits, maxi skirts, etc. I’m here for it all, and when thinking about what image I wanted to portray in my new headshots, I immediately knew I had to wear something African print to not only pay homage to my roots but to embrace my identity as a modern African woman.
Outside from fashion, a modern African woman is a powerhouse. She lives comfortably in any city, having mastered some of the most difficult ones (if you can sit through Lagos traffic every day, where it takes 3 hours to get to work in a normally 30 minute trip, or you’re used to losing electricity at any given moment, you can survive anything). She’s hustling in one way or another, as African women have been doing for generations. She creates new opportunities for herself, and shares them with her friends, as African women have always known there was strength in numbers. She might have 2 phones, an iPhone and a BlackBerry, but she can also get down and dirty and chop up some vegetables for a local dish. She can wear 5 inch heels or walk barefoot through her streets. She is not defined by a man, nor by her appearance, but simply by her ambition and her innate survival instinct to make it in a world that doubts her abilities.
That’s what I think of when I imagine the modern African woman, and that’s who I’m starting to embrace in myself!