Own Your Culture is a beautiful online campaign by the brilliant Chepkemboi Mangira aka ‘Miss Vavavum’ that seeks to restore ‘traditional’ pieces as fashion statements. Her mission when asked about the campaign, is to bring back the ornaments that were once central in the daily wear of a Kenyan and the East African community as a whole.
I Personally find the quest very inspiring and strongly support her marvelous campaign. If I could, I would turn back the hands of time and come up with the idea myself. What Kenyans (and other Africans) do not realize is that traditional pieces communicate POWER, BOLDNESS, CONFIDENCE and PRIDE. We need to embrace and own these inherent ornaments like we once did in the past, not only because they represent our heritage but because unfortunately of late it has become the trend that westerners seem to be embracing and celebrating our culture more than we do by donning locally crafted traditional pieces and even going ahead to incorporate our unique pieces into their design collections. People!!!!!!!!!!!!! We owe it to our ancestors to appreciate the great and rich heritage they left behind. Embrace your African culture, own it, and claim it as your identity. Let us not scurry to praise and adore western creations all the time, instead look at what you have here at home and identify yourself with it.
At the moment I have 3 traditional pieces to my name, the Maasai neck piece featured on this post, a pair of traditional oval earrings and a simple yellow African necklace. In all honesty, I only purchased them early in the year after seeing how classically Miss Vavavum rocked all her African pieces.Before her, I would never have thought it would be possible to integrate African pieces with contemporary items of clothing and it is this discovery that motivated me to join the wonderful campaign that she has started.
After gradually experimenting with the few pieces that I , especially the one featured here, I figured that I prefer to wear this particular piece with minimal print. One would therefore find me wearing a simple outfit with it such as this laced dress tucked into the toulle skirt, all put together to make a new outfit. Another option would be to wear a casual plain tee with jeans, shorts or an ankara skirt or pants that still leave the neckpiece as the center of attention. When wearing an outfit with prints I prefer an outfit with one colour or layering a bunch of them so that the outfit is still clean and not overly busy. The aim of keeping the colours of the outfit simple or neutral is that it keeps the neckpiece as the point of focus. As stressed earlier, the neckpiece represents our heritage and the moment it sits on my shoulders, or dangles on my ears, it deserves to stand out from anything else.
Photography – SixtyOne
Neck Piece – Maasai Market (CBD)
Dress acting as laced top – Gifted
Toulle Skirt – Coloured Sugar
Shoes – Thrifted
I pen off by saluting Miss Vavavum for forging this powerful campaign and fully pledge to support her. As the famous quote goes, if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together. In this wonderful month of December, Own Your Culture has collaborated with Refashion Africa which is a South African online magazine to celebrate culture with style in a very special way that urges everybody to embrace their culture and to spread awareness of the same.
All you need to do is:
- Follow @refashionafrica on Instagram or Refashion Africa on Facebook
- Follow @Ownyourculture on Instagram
- Upload a picture of yourself fashionably embracing your culture
- Use the tags #OYCxRA, #OwnYourCulture and #RefashionAfrica to be featured and join the movement
Own your culture people and be proud.6