Notwithstanding earlier endorsements of the Akwete fabric by Prince Charles, Princess Diana, former British Prime Minister Theresa May, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to mention a few, the recent endorsement by Anambra Governor- Elect Cee Cee Soludo is bound to make the fabric a global brand. Soludo has since last year, when he first made public appearance wearing the fabric during his collection of governorship nomination expression of interest form at the APGA Abuja head office, made the Akwete fabric more or less his dress code. He tells his audience that the hand-made Akwete from Akwete in Ndoki clan Abia State, South-East Nigeria is the only surviving textile industry which used to provide employment to many, stressing the urgent need to revive it.
While the Akwete women are predominantly engaged in cloth- weaving, the men are mostly fishermen and farmers. The Akwete women have settled in Aba, Port Harcourt, Lagos and other cities, still weaving the cloth and selling it to Nigerians, Africans and foreigners from other continents. An institution worthy of note is the Akwete Secondary Technical School the Akwete women built in 1980s through their big co- operative society that unites them.
Now with Soludo as their brand ambassador, the fabric will benefit from his national and international reputation and image by way of global visibility and positive association. We envisage that as a rapidly globalizing tribe, the Igbos will be the early wearers wherever they are while their friends and admirers will follow suit. Already, we have it on good authority that Soludo fans across the globe are making enquiries and placing orders for the fabric. Going forward, the weavers and Abia State Government should make conscious efforts to ensure availability, consistency in quality and possible line extensions to make the fabric affordable.
For Soludo, the Akwete example is his demonstration of his commitment to buy and use the Made-in-Anambra goods and services and where none exists, throw the searchlight to neighboring states. Today, he wears the made-in-Anambra shoes while the Innoson made-in-Anambra vehicle will be his official vehicle. In all these, he seeks to show that wealth creation and employment generation is not a black box and that his Economic Transformation agenda is doable in the context of his envisioned Livable and prosperous Anambra that will be an economic magnet to the world. Obviously, the world will come to Anambra and Anambra will go to the world.
So shouldn’t you share in this alluring vision by joining the movement for a greater Anambra?
Be of good cheer!
Joe C Anatune
Writes from Awa