By Jemi EKUNKNBOR
The status of the once inferior and despised ankara last weekend in Lagos, took a leap when the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) formerly unveiled and endorsed the colourful, cotton fabric as the Nigerian national dress brand.
The colourful and highly entertaining event which took place at Planet one in Lagos, in collaboration with City People Media group, attracted a select audience made up of Nollywood stars, top musicians, fashion designers, stakeholders in the tourism sector and a wide section of the Media who all came dressed in different ankara fabrics designed in both simple and high end styles.
Nollywood stars like Kate Henshaw Nuttal, Shan George, Ejike Asiegbu, Benita Nzeribe, Aki and Paw Paw became instant model as they took to T-Red carpet makeshift runway, catwalking in theri diffferent ankara designs to the delight of everyone. The journalist were not left out as one style writer after the other led by Nike Sotade of the Guardian Newspapers.
Afro juju maestro, Sir Shina Peters who opened the catwalk preceded his runway skills with a brilliant performance as he took the audience down memory lane with his hit song â€œAceâ€ . If the guests had a good laugh at this, MC Abbey, Helen Paul and Mandy who were comperes for the event totally left the guests in stitches.
Speaking at the event, director general, NTDC, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe said Nigeria is one of the most blessed countries of the world and there is no reason why we shouldnâ€™t celebrate what we have. He said many Nigerians are ashamed to adorn the ankara because of western influences.Â He said the current effort by NTDC to give Nigeria a national dress brand was something former Finance Minister, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh started in 1956, promoting the Nigerian culture with his dramatic wrapper that stretches several metres behind him. He pointed out that while some countries celebrate their flags, others like Ghana celebrate her Kente. â€œWe decided it is time to celebrate what is ours-the ankaraâ€ he further announced that in the days ahead, his damask cap would become his signature cap!
In his contribution, chairman of the board of NTDC, honourable Uche Ajakaye praised the effort of the NTDC describing the event as the most practical attempt to bring Nigerian identity to the fore. He encouraged Nigerians to rank our dress code next in line to the National Anthem.
And for their contributions in promoting the ankara through their works, five fashion designers, Data Okorodudu of JD7, Amede Nzeribe, Jewel by Lisa, Modela and FADAN president, Prince Akanni Oyefusi were given recognition awards and charged to uphold the Nigerian culture till 2010.