Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Vienna adire carnival...uniting the world through fashion
The event was tagged ‘Culture and Trade Summit’ so both came together fine. As you can see my models are multi race, simply to send the message of unity not just to those at the show but beyond.”
That was Mr Omotunde Komolafe, the Chief Executive Officer of Kijiji Africa, a Europe-based fashion outfit founded to create events to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the African culture in general and that of Nigeria specifically, speaking on his first ever Nigerian Adire fashion event he organised in Vienna Austria, last month.
The event was done to promote the Nigerian heritage, he said, with the aim of bringing Nigeria on the world tourism map.
When Komolafe left the shores of Nigeria for Europe, he left with a dream. The dream was to unite the world through fashion. But most importantly, he swore to promote his African heritage in general and specifically his home country’s wherever the tides take him.
Twenty five years later, Komolafe is living his dreams. With a load of events promoting the African culture and uniting the world under his belt, he hosted the first ever Nigerian Adire fashion event in Austria, drawing a huge crowd across the world to see the beauty of the Nigerian people.
The event, which held in Vienna, was tagged Adire Carnival with the aim of promoting the handmade Adire fabric from western part of Nigeria which was visible throughout the event.
Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune few months before the event was hosted, the President, National Association of Nigerian Community Austria (NANCA), Mr Oluyemi Ogundele, said that the Nigerian community in Austria was highly impressed with the programme being that it was designed to showcase the rich cultural heritage of “our great country Nigeria and to foster the friendly relationship between Nigeria and our host country Austria.”
The event, which collaborated with the Nigeria Embassy Vienna, Museum of Ethnology Vienna and a host of other organisations, finally berthed in Welt Museum, Vienna on June 29, drawing Nigerians from across the globe, with the likes of the Ogirimadagbo of Ilodo–Ijebu, Oba Isiaka Olajide Ajede, leading the Ogun State delegation and Osun State governor, Mr Rauf
Aregebesola leading the Osun delegation, not to mention the Nollywood stars and other professionals who graced the event from Nigeria. The Nollywood stars included Odunlade Adekola, Bolaji Amusan (Mister Latin), Saudy Odus, Lagata and Bunmi Onabule.
Speaking on the event, Komolafe told the Nigerian Tribune that he organised the carnival, which had received the endorsement of the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Gbenga Ashiru. He said he wanted the world to see that there was more to Nigeria aside the negative reports we hear abroad. “I want the world to see how cultured, beautiful and warm we are as a country. Apart from that, I wanted to put Nigeria on the tourism map of the world.
“My main purpose was to show the Africans and our European friends that our folk fabrics are as good as the western fabrics for urban wear design and as a result promote made in Nigeria garments. I am doing Adire bikini fashion show as part of the carnival and a little bit of fashion expo for Nigeria as part of the image building for Nigeria in Austria. This is the first time such an event will happen in Austria. I have sponsored their Gele Contest twice and this year, I decided to take my art few steps up with the Adire bikini.”
And judging from the outcome of the event, it seems he may have achieved his aim, especially as it regards the Adire promotion in Europe. Ogundele, the president of NANCA, wrote that “weeks after the event, people are still looking for Adire to buy. What a success. To God be the glory.”
As a founding member and the culture/exterior envoy of African Hungarian Union, Komolafe has been involved in promoting Nigeria in whatever capacity he found himself in. Previously, he founded Iroko Award 13 years ago with the aim of supporting the development of the relations between Africa and Hungary on one hand, and on the other, to emphasise those individual achievements, which serve the bilateral networking.
“As you know, the iroko in the West African Yoruba tradition is the symbol of greatness, one of the most characteristic and perhaps the most prominent tree species of Africa. Besides being the material of the family furniture, it provides shade and protection for those in need. This is why we chose the name for the award,” he said. He also intimated that the upcoming edition would have two of Nigerian Obas nominated for the Iroko award.
So what is next for the Kijiji man? He told the Nigerian Tribune that his next mega project is in the works. “My next mega project is Vienna-Lagos challenge. The rally will start in Vienna and end in Lagos, Nigeria. I drove to Nigeria in 2008 alone but now, I am doing the trip with close to 40 4x4 cars to Nigeria for the very first time in our history and as a result, we are putting Nigeria on the tourism map of extreme sports and travel pleasure.
“We are making arrangements with travel channel and few European channels to escort us with camera through the Sahara,” he said, adding that “Vienna-Lagos challenge is a rally for the everyday people looking for adventure and friendship. We are using this rally to boost friendship between Nigeria and Austria and at the same time promote tourism to the coastal city of Nigeria, Lagos. The participants of this rally will have the opportunity for the very first time to be part of history.”