I love the Nigerian spirit. The gift of the hustle, the ability to turn water into wine, the resilience to shine even in an eclipse, it seems like the Tupac poem reads we are, “the rose that grew from concrete”. We can be scum that always finds a way to rise. The latest street motto screams “hustle or dye trying”. It is what has come to define our identity, Naijapolitanism.
Even i consider myself a prime pedigree of the hustle movement. When people question my hustle credibility, i utter with fire in my eyes, as though about to get into a trash talk spar “you say you are from the street, but i am the street. Ask them my name and they will tell you”. (Google me bi@£%h)
However, despite my admiration for our messianic ability to raise the dead, i am starting to wonder whether this has let to the mass mediocre metropolis in the making.
People wake up from sleep and embark on missions without a destination or blueprint in sight. A friend of mine once made a lot of hype about starting a magazine. She raised funds to start up and solicited my support in the process. As any good friend i was supportive. Along the way i realised there was neither rhyme or reason to the publication. I couldn’t tell the audience or demographic, there was no advertising or marketing strategy. Well none that made much sense to me. Plus there was no concrete plan to where the publication was going. In the end it all seemed like a ploy to climb some social ladders.(after two publications it came to a halt) As you know in Lagos its important that you have an occupation that makes you relevant in the gatherings. “so what do you do?” with that irritating smirk and annoyingly eager widening of the eyes like they are really interested in knowing you or what you can do for them. And then they would reply “i am a designer. I design based on order but I’m working on my ready to wear line”.
In order words i go to my mothers wardrobe, pack all her unused Aso-ebi fabric ,cut out images from magazines because i cant sketch,(and probably cant thread a needle either) and then get my tailor in Costain to fabricate each style. I would then get my skinny friends to model them, get my photographer friend to photograph the models in my designs and do a mass viral campaign on my new collection. It hasn’t gone without notice that a multitude of designers seem to work primarily with Ankara fabric (using the pseudonym AFRICAN PRINT)
One would have to give an A plus for effort at least. Fashion is just one aspect of it all. There are events, magazines, television shows, websites, workshops, courses, seminers.etc etc etc all selling you the same brand of mass mediocre hysteria.
Without deliberately trying to sound like a “101 in ideas development lecture”, with every idea comes a blueprint on identity, demographic, marketability, sustainability, profit and investment potential, with an exception to fun or experimental projects of course. The scam can only last for so long. Though some have successfully made an art out of it all, being pedestrian that it.
After all said and done, even i have numerous occupation cloaks. Radio presenter, TV host, writer, PR consultant, blogger, content producer/provider, voice over artist, poet, plus i definitely see room for plus size designer somewhere in there. I better run off to Evans and Monsoon websites to fabricate my first collection. Oh and look out for the Guerilla Basement magazine too.(just joking.. but i foresee a coffee table book though) You never know. Somewhere in all of this one has to admire the feat we undertake. Just can’t knock the hustle.
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