By Chris Tongogara, zimeye.org
The above picture (right) is quite interesting. There is a “happy and decently dressed Nigerian Lady” an “anxious African man from a British colony” a “loyal Indian lady” and a “dignified Nigerian Chief”. They are at a United Nations Conference somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. The diverse dress code could resemble a global fashion show or a United Nations meeting yet this is a typical Saturday morning in Zimbabwe as leaders put on anything that fits before they head out to address a political rally. Through this dress code one can tell that we are at a crossroads of cultural identity. While all the folks above are dressed well, the dress code creates lots of questions. Where are these folks from? Where were they? What was the business they were gathered for? Does the dress code seem in unison or it was just a free dress style day?
Flashing her legs… Theresa Makone in confused dress code sitting MDC bigwigs
DPM Khupe is in a dignified dress that represents a Nigerian lady’s outfit. The PM is in a British style of shirt and trousers as inspired by British fashion trends. Just that he has no shirt. His wife is in an Indian Sari. We do not know when one must put on a Sari. Then the Finance Minister is donning a Nigerian style hat for “Chief Igwe”.
Obviously from the photo, our Ministry of culture has some homework to do. Should ladies go by the DPM’s style or by the PM’s wife’ style? Or should Zimbabwe task its own designers to adopt their own unique style that tells a story resembling Zimbabwe? Is the Finance Minister’s “hat” a way to identify with Nigeria? That shows we are fluid but do not have our own unique dress code and are still wondering where to go or how we can cope. The PM is in relaxed business attire. That sounds okay but does not tell a true story about Zimbabwe. Such a code is an international one and can be used by a man from Jamaica, Brazil or China.
Indian woman…confused dress code – Elizabeth Tsvangirai
It’s about time Zimbabwe tasked fashion designers, artists and inventors to come up with a dress code that can tell our own Zimbabwean story. There seems to be lots of confusion as folks do not really know or appreciate what some of the clothing they put on resembles. Every piece of clothing has its own story and is meant for a specific occasion. Through just checking the media and putting on anything that fits we as a Zimbabwean culture risk imitating some cultures whose objectives we are yet to understand. While it’s great to be diverse, it’s also good to get a deeper understanding of a particular culture and the implications of its dress code before we hop on to adopt it. If we do that at an international level we may risk becoming the laughing stock of other nations as we may dress wrongly or use the wrong dress code for the wrong occasion. Some cultures do not take dress code violations lightly.
Our Ministry of culture has a big task to do. We need colors for Zimbabwe and a code that identifies with Zimbabwe. Nigeria has set its own mark on the world map. They have a dignified code for specific occasions and even the quality of their different material for specific occasions tells a story per given occasion, season and event.
Confused dress code…British man – Morgan Tsvangirai with Indian wife… Elizabeth
Our fashion designers and the Ministry handling culture can do that as a way to promote societal advancement, registering a presence on the global fashion trends and also letting the world know exactly what Zimbabwe is all about including our background, beliefs, style, culture, preferences and conduct. Wantonly plagiarizing global dress codes pulls the carpet under our own legs as we are taken for a population without a history, a foundation or a common direction. The challenge is on you Minister of Culture. That sari, Nigerian hat and British business attire tell an interesting story that requires “urgent” redress from your office. Please consider this proposition.