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By Isaac Kwesi Oduro Jnr
Simplicity, they say, is the quality or condition of being uncomplicated. Unfortunately, these days, lots of people would rather opt for a complicated lifestyle than being tidy and simple.
As a writer, it took me a little while to pen down this article for fear of being tagged a hater or for lack of a better word, including being “jealous” of others.
But even so, this has been a topic bothering my mind for a very long time and I’ll make a conscious effort to clear it off my chest as I conclude this article rather than harbouring my fears.
I’ve had the opportunity to travel round the world since 2009 for Official Jobs, Conferences, Personal Holidays etc; and every time I did so, I looked out for the community I belonged in order to feel very much at home.
Traveling had always been fun to me but living abroad was the last thing I ever thought of until I got married to my wife and had to live abroad eventually. This sudden relocation really gave me more insight in this subject matter and I finally found myself even being a part of the situation.
Now, I would love to narrow this article down to Germany where I currently reside. Even though lots of Africans in the diaspora can relate to the details of this subject.
On a normal Sunday afternoon in any German state which has a chunk of African churches, the playback of men and women between the ages of 35 to 70 always reminds me of clowns I saw in movies while I grew up as a child in the late 70s. And in fact, sometimes, I ask myself lots of questions as to why our African men & women would commit such a sin in the house of the Lord. Wardrobe malfunction may even seem to you as a form of fashion on these normal days. And again, I ask myself where simplicity went to? Did the word get stolen in Germany? Or is it the case of most migrants in Germany “not knowing what’s up” or they simply can’t dress well?
For most part of the time, they would dress in expensive designer’s from the Gucci’s to the Louis Vuitton’s and the Dior’s, but would still get it wrong in terms of appeal. For the women, choosing the correct dress or footwear, makeup, hair etc would seem as a competition of some sort among the women. And for the men, from their suit and tie, shirt, trouser, belt, footwear, etc – everything would “Just Fall Apart” completely.
Style in the 70s
Let me rewind into the early 70s. Though I wasn’t born by then, I saw pictures of my parents and their friends and many other families that once lived in the USA, Europe and the UK. I was a young boy at the time but clearly, dressing back then was more decent and also carried a certain touch of class among migrants.
I know you’ll be asking questions by now as to who I am to judge others about their fashion sense. Of course I’m not a fashionista but I can tell when one is completely off their fashion senses or on point. As a matter of fact, sometimes I’m forced to ask if it’s due to the current crop of Ghanaian Migrants just overdoing things here in Germany or they just try to impress, and ending up over doing it?
Apart from the normal Sunday vibes, occasions like parties, naming ceremonies, weddings and even funerals, our brothers and sisters would always explode in these fanciful dress codes.
Sometimes I try to look at the issue from the spectacles of the dress culture of residents which we want to mimic, despite our conflicting gaits and backgrounds. In the end, we end up being third class citizens anyway; and I ask myself why we always try to do much more than the indigenous people (The Germans) here in Germany.
Two weeks ago, I witnessed a wedding ceremony in Düsseldorf, Germany. This time I tried to shift the attention from the guest who never proved me wrong as usual to the celebrants, and Jeeeeeezzzzz, there they go again. The bride and the groom felt so full of themselves and again, with so much put together for the event of that day, their wardrobe was nothing good to write home about. Their costumes were a combination of traditional and modern designs. However, what really dazed me was one yellow dress which the bride wore towards the climax of the event. That is aside of the fact that the original wedding dress itself was not really cut for a classy wedding occasion – African or European.
Indeed, the highlights were too elaborate. When I first saw the yellow dress, It took me a while to figure out what exactly the designer was up to. Immediately, I started to visualize in high speed straight to my childhood days to figure out if the concept of that dress came out of any of the “yellow chicken cartoons” I watched back in the days. By the way I would have even settled for the yellow chicken ”cartoon” dress code than what I saw.
As I made my way back to contemporary times, I recalled one style that I saw Afia Schwarzenegger, the popular Ghanaian comedienne and TV host, wore sometime back. Ahaaaaaa; and right there, I knew the designer was playing tricks with our minds.
She had blended the yellow chicken idea plus Afia’s dress just to make hers look better. To cut a long story short, I was not entirely surprised that after the event, most internet portals picked up that funny incident and made stories out of that. To say it went viral will be an understatement, it went far ankasa.
More questions than answers
I have just 3 questions to end my article. First, can’t we just learn from the people we met in those cities where we reside? Secondly, do we always have to impress even if it’s ridiculously unreasonable? And third, who are we trying to show off to?
The answers to these questions often pop up, but who I’m I to advise the people who came here before some of us? The so called “me bà ha à kye” people; meaning “we came here long ago” aka. Old Burgers.
Let’s try and keep it simple, for simplicity is best in observing all standards.