Regional bloc wants Kitenge adopted as official attire

Monday March 26 2018

A woman dressed in a Kitenge dress. COURTESY PHOTO

The partner states for the East African Community have been asked to lobby their respective governments to ensure that their citizens wear African fabrics to work instead of suits.
Addressing a high level East African Business Council (EABC) conference during its 20th anniversary celebrations at the Kenyatta International Conference Center on March 23, Lillian Awinja the EABC executive director said the East African citizens should stop wearing used clothing imported from Europe and USA but start wearing African fabrics which are new and a true representative of African nature.

“Why should Africans wear second hand underwear and suits yet we have our Kitenge? We are requesting the EAC governments to make Kitenges the official wear for Fridays so that their citizens can go to office in their Kitenges, on Fridays,” she said, explaining that this would promote the African textile industry rather than enter into another war with Europe and USA who are now selling their used clothing to Africans.

“We are not calling for a ban on the importation of used clothing but we are saying, let our citizens also enjoy wearing new clothing from our Kitenges and the practical way is by them wearing them every Friday,” she said.

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda who represented President Museveni said the Kitenge is already endorsed because President Museveni as the sitting Chairman of the East African community, no longer wears suits as his official attire but Kitenges which he dons on official occasions.
“I cannot say anyone more than your request because as you are all aware, President Museveni who is the sitting Chairman of the community, these days wear Kitenge as his official attire,” he said adding that this is one of the ways to popularize African wear.

The EABC is a private sector-led initiative started in 1997, to engage the partner state governments on policies which directly impact on business community during the regional process.
According to its chairman Jim Kabeho, since its establishment, the council has been instrumental in ensuring that interests of the business community are taken into account when drafting the integration protocols. He noted that the council was key in identifying the challenges of integration and advising government how to solve them in the integration process and they have been moving ahead of the public sector which is just waking up now.