Made In China vs Made In Africa
( Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Congo, Nigeria, South Africa Botswana, Angola, Liberia, etc…)
Made in China is a label many don’t like to see. It’s nothing particularly against China its just so controversial. We all love and are proud of home grown goods and services and we are proud to be associated to promote those specific products.
However the challenge comes when manufacturing is taken to overseas for one reason or the other. In most cases manufacturing is done in China to reduce costs and scale production of products.
The Million Dollar Question
This is the million-dollar question we have yet to find an answer to. There are very many perspectives and interpretations from different parts of the world. Certainly, there is no right answer to this specific question. I believe that it is more of an emotional argument than it is rational. When an individual identifies with a certain part of the world, they value they identity and are drawn to taking ownership to prove a level of loyalty. In this global village, we are drawn to what is familiar and feels like home. However due to the diversification of raw materials, costs, taxes and preference and tastes, most things authentic to a specific place may have various versions to satisfy various needs and markets.
Africa is well and able to manufacture its own textiles and it has been doing so for a long time.
The high demand, and need for fairer priced products have diversified production. Some of these African fabrics are manufacture in other areas like China and Europe. The Vlisco hollandaise Dutch wax fabric company sell primarily to African markets but the prints are made in the Netherlands. However in such cases the fabric is expensive and few locals can afford these. The Chinese fabrics are prints manufactured in China. They come in different qualities and in many cases these largely serve the locals because they are more affordable. Furthermore, the tables are slowly turning and we’re finding an increasing number of Chinese manufacturers coming to source and produce in Africa. They have the technology and Africa has the raw materials to help further reduce the prices of what is currently being produced in China.
China as a manufacturing hub
China continues to be the largest manufacturer of most products being sold and consumed all over the world. It is the manufacturing hub for most fabric, African and more. It’s been manufacturing most fabrics in different qualities and selling it all over the world. India and Thailand are also heavy manufactures of fabric. In the markets, it is really hard to tell the difference between fabric made in Kenya and made in China unless the label mentions this.
Sometimes however, the fabric presented to me does not fit the bill to what is considered African fabric. An example is stretchy light fabric that has an African print and people try to sell as African fabric. What I know as someone familiar with the various African fabrics we have, it does not have stretch to it. It is a somewhat heavier threaded cotton, waxy and stiff. The colors are bold and bright and can be worn on both sides.
Why there’s no direct answer
This riddle is so familiar that I am not certain I know the answer to it. Let’s say, as an example, we have individuals who both their parents are from a different country but they are born in another country. I will use my son in this case. Does it mean they cannot identify with the country the parents come from? I believe DNA, Genes, Ancestors trump corporate documents. He is his ancestors. And this is a choice he will also have to make on his own. I will nurture him in my culture and let him learn his true history as he gathers the facts to make this choice.
The whole “Made in China” conundrum should not be the largest world problem we have. China is the largest manufacturer of many of the products we can find out here, simple. The computer I’m using is made in China but brand is U.S. That is what they do best and due to that the products become affordable. There methods are suspect when it comes to large designer brands but they also provide ways and product to help small businesses to start and grow.
What I strongly believe is, when credit is given to the deserving party, the fabric can be made anywhere in the world but will always be identified as African. Whether it is made in China, or some place in Africa it is and will always be African. We all know that Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and best form of appreciation.
With regards to what we use for Murahaba, it is all Made here. Our fabrics are source from different parts in Africa, but the final product is Made In Kenya. We have sufficient supply of resources that we don’t need to go out to China.
Until next time