This has been on my mind for a while. I say it because for a long time, operating in the sustainable fashion space I have come to acknowledge that many conversations about sustainability with African-Americans often focus on the race and colonisation but only mainly in the USA. There is little to no acknowledgement of the existence of Africa and its sustainability in the dialogue unless we are talking about second hand or dumping waste…which reinforces more stereotypes that it shatters.
Are we waiting for Ethiopia to become the next Bangladesh before we have more energy for the continent of Africa in the sustainability conversation? Until that moment, it feels like Africa is frequently sidelined. Whereas the conversations I am having with Africans across the continent focus on challenging the perception of Africas 54 countries as developing, or the perception of the continents’ creatives as market traders making inferior goods, or the notion that couture houses and artisans do not exist there. Or pushing for acknowledgement of its trailblazer sustainability pioneers…hello Professor Wangari. Yet, they are all also pretty clued up about what sustainability looks like in the USA.
It feels like African sustainability is rarely invited to the cookout. A great deal of my work for this coming year is to challenge the perceptions of sustainability through a cultural and social lens. It’s about time.