Bunmi Koko: One to watch

Bunmi Olaye is a fashion designer who is so talented that she is rumoured to have been cherry picked by Michelle Obama to make a coat for her. But that is not the only reason why you should know the label Bunmi Koko. The name Bunmi means ‘God gave me’ in her native Yoruba. Koko which means ‘my other half’ is an affectionate name given to her by her business and life partner, Francis Udom.  The designs of this  28 year old Nigerian designer is so riveting that she has caught the eye of reputable fashionistas in her home base of London. 

The hardwork of Bunmi Olaye and Francis Udom  paid off when she was crowned ‘ Emerging International Designer’ at the 2010 Africa Fashion week. She is currently preparing to display her collection in London’s Fashion Week. However, before the accolades and the international recognition,  Bunmi Olaye honed her skills under the tutelage of the late Alexander McQueen – the creative impact of this is evident in her tailoring. 

Her muse is Mel B. The Spice girl can be seen rocking various items from Bunmi Koko. Nelson Mandela’s wife Graca Michel is also a huge fan and she even included a hand written note to the prospectus of designs that Bunmi sent to the White House. 

Vogue London calls her the ‘one to watch’ and they are not exaggerating. You will be blown away by the fusion of themes in her Geisha and  Matriarchy collections. But don’t just take my word for it, join her Facebook group, google her, view her collection and you will be reaching for your wallet.

Africa rising

It feels pretty good to be Africa right now. Stories of war and famine have been eclipsed by news of a vibrant and blossoming Africa. This seismic stirring is so powerful that you will be mistaken to view the continent’s landscape through the lens of the Discovery Channel: For sure, the hippos and elephants will not tell you that it is no longer enough to distantly support Africa’s development through Western Union. Neither will they tell you that the torch of Africa has been reignited, and its flames are being fanned by the entrepreneurial spirit of young, bright and ambitious Africans.

Many live in the motherland, some live in the diaspora, but together they have partnered to make Africa’s cultural and natural resources a profitable and respectable industry. From real estate to banks, mining and entertainment, every facet of the African society has been stoked.

The growth started way before the great recession of recent times, but it has slowly gathered steam. When the economies of developed countries started to sputter and falter, the stock exchange of African countries began generating better return. When the financial industry of Ireland, United States and Greece torpedoed, that of Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria remained resilient and in some cases, flourished with a surge in banks and investment companies. The fertile conditions motivated many Africans in the diaspora to dismiss the lure of the West and return to their roots to build homes, companies and governments.

Entertainment, fashion and media followed suit. Fashion week which had been reserved for fashion houses like Prada and Chanel is now celebrated in Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal and Morocco. The previously traditional Ankara cloth is gaining international prominence thanks to designers such us KUA designs. Like it’s colourfully woven bags, the collection is a fuse of modern fashion and rich African culture. Consumers are panting in response… They are eager to show that wearing these trendy and timeless pieces is more than a fashion statement. It is about the sense of pride and ownership that you exude when you sport an item that is African made or African inspired.

In Media, many African countries have churned their well earned freedom of speech into a fearless and engaging media industry. Across Nairobi, Kinshasa, Casablanca and Conakry, radio and television stations are booming. Apathy is nonexistent as listeners take to the airwaves to vigorously voice their opinions on politics and social commentary. Visit blogs and e-magazines such as maize break, orijin culture, uzuri to read rich independent opinions about Africans reshaping their future.

Finally, the entertainment scene has also been remarkably transformed. There is ground breaking respect for Hip life, Hi-life and Zouk. Club bangers are now headlined by legends such as Angelique Kidjoe, Papa Wemba and Koffi Olomide. New talents such as R2Bees, Sarkodie, Zeus and HHP are giving Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg a run for their money. Thankfully the entertaining drama of Nollywood films is being balanced by the authentic narration of African experiences by notable film makers like Baff Akoto of the internationally acclaimed Football Fables.

Clearly, what started as a tepid interest in Africa has spurned into a full scale exodus of Africans to their flourishing continent. African led initiatives on education, health and economics is taking a hold soon to supercede the marks of enslavement, colonization, and trade disparity. I am so proud that young Africans are strength in the wind of Pan-africanism that is blowing across the globe.

Visit http://www.kuadesigns.com www.footballfables.co.uk http://www.orijinculture.com


Photo credit: Kua Designs