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Somalia’s game-changing local fashion industry comes to life

Fashion has also become a family affair, with Hassan’s father -a tailor by trade -and older sister helping cut and sew the clothes

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Somali's game-changing local fashion industry comes to life
A saleswoman at the Mkeni Designs shop, dresses a mannequin with new fashion creations on November 4, 2018, in Mogadishu. - Somalia's clothes business is a simple one: foreign imported garments for the well-to-do, locally tailored clothes for the rest. But new fashion designers are complicating that picture with locally-designed, hand-made attire. (Photo by Abdi HAJJI HUSSEIN / AFP)

Every time young fashion designer Hawa Adan Hassan makes a new gown for a paying customer, she also makes her dreams come true.

“My whole life, fashion design was a dream,” says the 23-year-old university student, who, last year, began running a cottage business out of her family’s home in Hamarweyne, the historic heart of Somalia’s coastal capital, Mogadishu.

For Hassan, it began with art, when she found herself drawn to sketching clothes rather than the animals and landscapes preferred by her peers. 

Then she set to work on tailoring to turn her images into reality.

“I realised this could be my field of expertise,” she says.

Somali's game-changing local fashion industry comes to life
Hawa Adan Hassan, 23 year-old, university student, uses a sewing machine at her home in Mogadishu, Somalia. – Somalia’s clothes business is a simple one: foreign imported garments for the well-to-do, locally tailored clothes for the rest. But new fashion designers are complicating that picture with locally-designed, hand-made attire. (Photo by Abdi HAJJI HUSSEIN / AFP)

Amidst political instability, a creeping cosmopolitanism is challenging entrenched conservative attitudes and many Somalis are undaunted by wanting a look that stands out.

Somalia’s clothing stores traditionally adhere to a simple formula: imported garments for the well-to-do, locally-made clothes for the rest.

But Hassan and others are starting to alter that picture with locally-designed, handmade attire for the high end of the market.

In such a nascent industry, Hassan is, by necessity, self-taught. When asked what inspired her taste, she said:

“I used to watch fashion design shows on TV, and every time I watched one, I tried to grasp the ideas by drawing what I saw.”

Her favourite was “Project Runway”, a US-made reality programme fronted by German model Heidi Klum.

“When I started, I had no-one as a role model. It is just something I dreamed up,” she says, adding that she now finds inspiration in the likes of Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab.

‘Clothes with a story’ –

In her home studio, Hassan sketches and inks new designs of abaya gowns and hijab headscarves, in a variety of black or bright colours, tight and loose fittings, with plain or embroidered finishes.

Fashion has also become a family affair, with Hassan’s father — a tailor by trade — and older sister helping cut and sew the clothes.

Visitors to the workshop can hear children playing in nearby rooms and cooking smells waft in from the kitchen.

Somali's game-changing local fashion industry comes to life
Hawa Adan Hassan, a 23 year-old university student and a young Somali female fashion designer checks her new finished fashion design. (Photo by Abdi HAJJI HUSSEIN / AFP)

Her elder brother has been an investor, helping to buy sewing machines and other equipment.

Now the business is taking off, she says.

“In the beginning, it was my father, elder sister and brother who helped me start but now I’m self-reliant and can make a living out of my work,” she says proudly.

Like many Mogadishu residents who have become inured to violence, Hassan dismisses the city’s frequent bombings and shoot-outs, describing them as an “inconvenience” that can mess up her delivery schedules.

Muna Mohamed Abdulahi, another start-up fashion designer, is on a mission to encourage local people to take pride in products made in Somalia.

“Some people come to my shop and, when they realise that these clothes are designed and made locally, they run away because they have a negative impression about locally-made clothes,” says the 24-year-old.

Like Hassan, Abdulahi is self-taught — “I was my own role model,” she says — and insists she is more than just a tailor aping the work of others.

“A designer creates clothes with a story, but a tailor makes it without thinking, they just duplicate,” Abdulahi says.

Generation gap –

The designers’ customers are mostly young, like them, and affluent.

“I like clothes designed by Somalis because they fit and make you look attractive,” says 22-year-old student Farhiyo Hassan Abdi. “Imported costumes are mostly out of shape and don’t look good on you.”

“I don’t go for imported clothes anymore,” she adds, pointing out that the price of local fashion is often cheaper than the imports and it is easy to have alterations done.

Somali's game-changing local fashion industry comes to life
Muna Mohamed Abdullahi, 24 year-old, owner of Mkena Designs, draws her new creations on a wall at her home in Modadishu, Somalia. (Photo by Abdi HAJJI HUSSEIN / AFP)

But these young designers and customers, seeking out unique fashion and wanting to look good, seem to live in a world apart from others in the city.

Dahir Yusuf, a 49-year-old father, is appalled by his teenage daughter’s love of designer clothes, which he considers immoral.

“These young girls are crazy about designer clothes, which are mostly fitted and reveal the features of their bodies,” he says, tutting. “Morally, it is not good to wear such things.”

As a male fashion designer, Abdishakur Abdirahman Adam faces down double-criticism in pursuit of dreams.

“In Somalia, it is very difficult for a boy to become a fashion designer, because people believe this is women’s work,” says the slim 19-year-old, who was introduced to fashion by watching catwalk shows on satellite TV.

Nevertheless, he plans to continue, designing for both women and men, hoping to compete with foreign imports.

“What I do is just to create fashionable clothes with the material I have here without spending more money so that it looks like something from overseas.”

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Teni, Falz, Burna Boy win big at 2019 Headies award. See full list of winners

Teni emerged the biggest winner with 5 awards, while Falz and Burna Boy tailed right behind her with 3 and 2 respectively

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Teni, Falz, Burna Boy win big at 2019 Headies award. See full list of winners | News Central

The 2019 Headies award, one of Nigeria’s biggest music award shows, kicked off with a red carpet at about 7 pm W.A.T with the main event starting at exactly 9 pm W.A.T at the Eko Convention Centre in Lagos, Nigeria on Saturday, October 19, 2019.

The event featured exhilarating musical performances from some of Nigeria’s older and new age musicians who kept the audience up on their feet almost throughout the show.

Nigerian actress and TV host, Nancy Isime and rap star, Reminisce hosted the award show where over 20 awards were won by individuals that excelled in their respective categories in the year under review.

Pop sensation, Teni emerged the biggest winner at the event with 5 awards, while Falz and Burna Boy tailed right behind her with 3 and 2 respectively.

Here are the winners of the 13th edition of the Headies.

1.  BEST RECORDING OF THE YEAR (Non-voting category)

  • Adekunle Gold – Ire
  • Patoranking – Heal D World
  • Brymo – Olanrewaju
  • Teni – Uyo Meyo (Winner)
  • Burna Boy – Ye

2.      BEST POP SINGLE

  • ‘Ye’ – Burna Boy
  • ‘Wetin We Gain’ – Victor AD
  • ‘Fake Love’ – Starboy ft Duncan Mighty, Wizkid
  • ‘Case’ – Teni (Winner)
  • ‘Jealous’ – Fireboy DML
  • ‘Baby’ – Joeboy

3.      PRODUCER OF THE YEAR

  • Phantom – ‘Ye’ b Burna Boy
  • Ozedikus – ‘Dumebi’ by Rema
  • Spellz – ‘Askamaya’ by Teni
  • Killertunes – ‘Fake Love’ by Starboy featuring Duncan Mighty and Wizkid ( Winner)
  • Kel-P Vibes – ‘Killing Dem’ by Burna Boy featuring Zlatan

4.      BEST RAP ALBUM (Non-voting)

  • ‘Moral Instruction’ – Falz (Winner)
  • ‘Crown’ – AQ and Loose Kaynon
  • ‘A Study On Self Worth: Yxng Dxnzl’ – M.I Abaga
  • ‘Clone Wars, Vol. IV (These Buhari Times)’ – Show Dem Camp

5.      BEST R&B/ POP ALBUM

  • Rare – Odunsi (The Engine)
  • Outside – Burna Boy
  • No Bad Songz – Kizz Daniel
  • Mayor of Lagos – Mayorkun (Winner)
  • About 30 – Adekunle Gold

6.      BEST MUSIC VIDEO

  • ‘Dangote’ (Burna Boy) – Clarence Peters(Winner)
  • ‘Available’ (Patoranking) – Clarence Peters
  • ‘Ire’ (Adekunle Gold) – Aje Films
  • ‘Talk’ (Falz) – Prodigeezy
  • ‘Jaiye’ (Ladipoe) – 88 Factor

7.      BEST R&B SINGLE

  • ‘Tipsy’ – Odunsi ft. RAYE
  • ‘Serenade’ – Funbi
  • ‘Uyo Meyo’ – Teni
  •  ‘Wishes and Butterflies’ – Wurld
  • ‘Gimme Love’ – Seyi Shay featuring Runtown (Winner)

8.      BEST COLLABO

  • ‘Like’ – Reekado Banks featuring Tiwa Savage, Fiokee
  • ‘One Ticket’ – Kiss Daniel featuring Davido
  • ‘Fake Love’ – Starboy featuring Duncan Mighty, Wizkid
  • ‘Killin’ Dem’ – Burna Boy featuring Zlatan (Winner)
  • ‘Amaka’ – 2baba featuring Peruzzi

9.      BEST RAP SINGLE

  • ‘Talk’ – Falz ( Winner)
  • ‘We Don’t Do That Over Here’ – Hotyce
  • ‘40ft Container’ – Ill Bliss featuring Olamide
  • ‘Sacrifice’ – Payper Corleone featuring Alpha Ojini
  •  ‘Gang Gang’ – AQ and Loose Kaynon

10.  BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE(MALE) (Non-voting category)

  • Tay Iwar – ‘Utero’
  • Johnny Drille – ‘Finding Efe’
  • Nonso Bassey – ‘411’
  • Funbi – ‘Serenade’
  • Wurld – ‘Wishes & Butterfly’ ( Winner)

11.  BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE (FEMALE) (Non-voting category)

  • Good Girl LA – ‘Bless me’
  • Waje – ‘Udue’
  • Teni – ‘Uyo Meyo’ (Winner)
  • Tems – ‘Mr Rebel’
  • Falana – ‘Repeat’

12.  NEXT RATED

This category is a voting category and the award is given to the most performing and promising act in the year under review.

  • Rema (Winner)
  • Joeboy
  • Fireboy DML
  • Victor AD
  • Lyta
  • Zlatan

13.  HIP HOP WORLD REVELATION

  • Odunsi
  • Mayorkun (Winner)
  • Wurld
  • Humblesmith

15.  BEST STREET-HOP ARTISTE

  • Erigga – ‘Motivation’ 
  • Chinko Ekun – ‘Able God’ (Winner)
  • Zlatan – ‘Leg Work’
  • Barry Jhay – ‘Aiye’
  • Lyta – ‘Time’

16.  BEST ‘ALTERNATIVE’ SONG

  • ‘Cash’ – Lady Donli
  • ‘Mr Rebel’ – Tems
  • ‘Finding Efe’ – Johnny Drille ( Winner)
  • ‘Heya’ – Brymo
  • ‘Ire’ – Adekunle Gold

17.  ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • About 30 – Adekunle Gold
  • Outside – Burna Boy
  • Moral Instruction – Falz (Winner)
  • No Bad Songz – Kizz Daniel

18.  ARTISTE OF THE YEAR

  • Burna Boy (Winner)
  • Wizkid
  • Davido
  • Tiwa Savage
  • Falz

19.  SONG OF THE YEAR

  • ‘Ye’ – Burna Boy (Winner)
  • ‘Dumebi’ – Rema
  • ‘Wetin We Gain’ – Victor AD
  • ‘Fake Love’ – Starboy ft Duncan Mighty, Wizkid
  • ‘Case’ – Teni
  • ‘Leg work’ – Zlatan
  • ‘Baby’ – Joeboy
  • ‘Jealous’ – Fireboy DML

20.  HEADIES’ VIEWER’S CHOICE

  • Mr Eazi
  • Burna Boy
  • Teni (Winner)
  • Fireboy DML
  • Rema
  • Joe Boy
  • Wizkid
  • Davido

21.  BEST PERFORMER (Non-voting category)

  • Falz
  • Tiwa Savage
  • Brymo
  • Yemi Alade (Winner)
  • Adekunle Gold

22.  ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

  • Crayon
  • Buju
  • Barry Jhay ( Winner)
  • Oxlade

23. SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD

Paul Okoye

23.  AFRICAN ARTISTE RECOGNITION

  • Master KG – Skeleton Moves (SOUTH AFRICA)
  • Afro B – Drogba (Joanna) (IVORY COAST)
  • Sauti Sol – Melanin (KENYA)
  • King Promise – CCTV (GHANA) (WINNER)
  • DJ Maphoriza – iWalk Ye Phara (SOUTH AFRICA)

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Egypt unveils 30 ancient wooden coffins in Valley of the Kings in Luxor

The 30 ornately decorated coffins of men, women and children were found only a metre (three feet) underground, stacked in two rows

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Egypt revealed Saturday a rare trove of 30 ancient wooden coffins that have been well-preserved over millennia in the archaeologically rich Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

The antiquities ministry officially unveiled the discovery made at Asasif, a necropolis on the west bank of the Nile River, at a press conference against the backdrop of the Hatshepsut Temple. 

“This is the first discovery in Asasif by dedicated Egyptian hands, comprised of archaeologists, conservationists and workers,” the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa al-Waziri, told reporters. 

The 30 ornately decorated coffins of men, women and children were found only a metre (three feet) underground, stacked in two rows. They are believed to belong to family members of high priests.

Waziri explained that excavations of the site in the 19th century had revealed royal tombs, but this latest discovery had yielded a collection of priests’ burials.

The sarcophagi dates back to the 22nd Dynasty, founded around 3,000 years ago in the 10th century BC. 

Despite their age, black, green, red and yellow paintings of snakes, birds, lotus flowers and hieroglyphics that cover the coffins are still clearly visible.

A sealed coffin belonging to a young ancient Egyptian child was incomplete and unpainted.

“We only did remedial first-aid on these well-preserved coffins. They are considered to be in great condition because there were hardly any settlements” around the site, local antiquities ministry restorer Saleh Abdel-Gelil told AFP.

Tombs and tourism

Discoveries of ancient Egyptian relics had slowed after the 2011 Arab Spring revolution that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak and plunged the country in political turmoil, according to Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany.

Several high-level officials, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, have in recent weeks affirmed Egypt’s stability following rare, small-scale protests in September that drew a heavy-handed response from security forces.

“Now in Egypt we have more security so we have more foreign nationals. We have more than 250 (archaeological) missions. More work equals more discoveries”, he told AFP on the sidelines of the press conference.

At Marsam, a boutique hotel in Luxor, the flurry of archaeological discoveries in recent years has translated into good business and foot traffic.

“You can say two years ago we noticed a difference. There was less than half the people that we have today,” said Birte Fuchs, a German who manages the Marsam with her husband and local partners. “Tourism is coming back”.

This year, over 11 million visitors travelled to Egypt, following a sharp dip in numbers after the revolution. 

Egypt has sought to promote its archaeological heritage and finds in a bid to revive its vital tourism sector, which has suffered due to political insecurity and terror attacks.

However, critics point to archaeological sites and museums suffering from negligence and poor management.

But Enany, the minister, remains upbeat.

“Some people, we don’t have to mention names, don’t want us to have these discoveries… that impress the world,” said Enany before throngs of tourists, referring to detractors.

“These discoveries are priceless for Egypt’s reputation,” he added.

Sporting his trademark cowboy hat, Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, who has consistently promoted his discoveries to a global audience, was also at Saturday’s unveiling.

He took selfies with tourists who flocked to the coffins.

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Nigerian town celebrates self-proclaimed title of ‘twins capital of the world’

The town boasts of having the highest concentration of multiple births of any place on the globe.

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The sign greeting visitors at the entrance of Igbo-Ora in southwest Nigeria welcomes people to “TWINS CAPITAL OF THE WORLD”.

The town boasts of having the highest concentration of multiple births of any place on the globe. 

To celebrate its self-proclaimed title the town hosts an annual festival, now in its second year, that draws hundreds of sets of twins from around the country.

Donning different traditional clothes and costumes, the twins – male and female, old, young and even newborns – sang and danced at the latest edition this weekend to the appreciation of an admiring audience.

“We feel elated that we are being honoured today,” Kehinde Durowoju, a 40-year-old twin, told AFP as he hugged his identical brother Taiwo. 

“With this event, the whole world will better appreciate the importance of Ibeji (twins) as special children and gifts from God.”

Around them, twins moved in procession to show off their colourful outfits as magic displays and masquerades also entertained the crowds.

‘Twins tourism’

Population experts say the Yoruba-speaking southwest has one of the highest twinning rates in Nigeria.

Statistics are difficult to come by, but a study by British gynaecologist Patrick Nylander, between 1972 and 1982, recorded an average of 45 to 50 sets of twins per 1,000 live births in the region.

That compares to a twin birth rate of 33 per every 1,000 births in the United States, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Igbo-Ora is the epicentre of the phenomenon in the country. 

Residents in the town say that almost every family has some twins.  

Traditional leader Jimoh Olajide Titiloye knows all about this special quirk. 

“I am a twin, my wife is a twin and I have twins as children,” he told AFP. 

“There is hardly any household in this town which does not have at least a set of twins.”

He said the festival on Saturday was aimed at promoting Igbo-Ora as “the foremost twins’ tourism destination in the world” and that efforts were underway to get the town listed in the Guinness Book of Records. 

Royal father and King of Oyo kingdom Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, lll, looks on during the parade of twin mothers at the Igbo-Ora World Twins festival, designed to celebrate the uniqueness in multiple births at Igbo-Ora Town in Oyo State, Nigeria, on October 12, 2019. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Prominent Yoruba ruler, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, said the festival “is a celebration of culture and recognition of Ibeji as special children in Yorubaland”.  

He said the birth of twins usually “heralds peace, progress, prosperity and good luck to their parents,” adding that parents should always take good care of them.

But while twins are seen as a blessing by many today, that has not always the case in parts of southern Nigeria. 

In pre-colonial times twins were often regarded as evil and were either banished to the “evil forest” or killed.

Scottish missionary Mary Slessor is widely credited with helping to curb the practice in the late 19th century.

Food or genes?

Scientists have not said definitively why Igbo-Ora has such a high number of twins. 

Local residents have a theory that it is down to the diet of women in the town. 

“Our people eat okra leaf or Ilasa soup with yam and amala.” community leader Samuel Adewuyi Adeleye told AFP.

Yams are believed to contain gonadotropins, a chemical substance that helps women to produce multiple eggs.

“The water we drink also contributes to the phenomenon,” Adeleye added.

Fertility experts are sceptical – and point to another explanation. 

They say there is no proven link between diet and the high birth rate, with the same food being consumed across the region. 

“It’s a genetic thing,” said Emmanuel Akinyemi, the medical director of Lagos-based Estate Clinic. 

“I think the gene for multiple births is in the region and this has been passed on from generation to generation.” 

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