Culture meets Fashion and my Passion.

22 Jul


It was a great meeting Lydia and Malvin to discuss Taruwa magazine, and to become a contributor. I of course said yes and begun a battle in my mind on what my corner should be about. I am an eco-journalist and in the past year, I have communicated various development issues but with special focus on climate change and the environment. I knew I wanted to write something along this line but this is TARUWA, how would I manage to tell monthly environmental stories for a magazine that talks about Culture, without getting my audience bored. I figured I should bring together our culture, climate, environment and sustainable living.

Taruwa means the ‘Gathering’ in Hausa. I also figured I should stick to the name of my radio show, Green Angle. We would monthly have fun in the moonlight, telling tales of how our environment used to be, how we can make little local changes to make global impact and save our only planet. Welcome to Green Angle, a Taruwa of environmental conscious friends and lovers of culture.

I would start by telling about my 1stexperience visiting the Emirate in Kano State. I had gone to Kano along side the president of Fight Against Desert Encroachment in Africa, Dr Newton Jibunoh and other staff members. The Emir, Alhaji Ado Bayero  is the Board Chairman of FADE .The visit is in preparation for World Environment Day WED, June 5,2011. I had gone to see the people of the desert, who have over the years lost their livelihood to the ever advancing desert, turning their homes and farm land to sand dunes. I had gone to speak with these locals, to hear and  tell their stories the best way I could. FADE works to fight desertification and is behind several expeditions across the Sahara. Dr. Newton Jibunoh, is a Nigerian is a soil scientist and Engineer who has crossed the Sahara Desert on solitary expeditions 3 times at ages 27, 62 and 70 and is preparing for a forth expedition. Wondering who sent him and what he is looking for?  Well, his experiences from the expeditions has inspired a life project to bring attention to the expanding Sahara Desert and the shrinking lakes of Africa as a result of climate change. Story for another day.

Dr Newton Jibunoh and I

Dr Newton Jibunoh and I

Anyway, this day, I wake up early, had my prayers, took my bath and got dressed in a simple chiffon top and a pair jeans. Then Mobola Atobatele (I love the sound of her last name, a Yoruba name meaning “we have been Kings before we were made Kings), a FADE staff comes back into the room to say “Fatima says we can’t dress like that to the palace”. I am mortified, not just because this is the only clothing that did not need ironing, since PHCN probably doesn’t deliver power to Kano, but because I did not come with any long gown or skirt that was fit. I forgot to ask for a dress code before leaving Abuja…my bad. I tried on a short gown on a jean, strike a pose before Fatima and she goes…..”that won’t work”. I practically turn my well arranged box upside down trying to find an outfit Palace worthy. Palace worthy means I must respect the culture of the land and beliefs of the Islamic religion; A woman must be properly covered.

Mobola and Fatima(Fashion Police Chair)

Mobola and Fatima(Fashion Police Chair)

Losing hope of my dream of entering the great palace of the Emir of Kano today, my eyes hit a perfect long satin dress with short but huge sleeves. “Hmmmm that’s my palace worthy dress.” I put it on, with a skinny jean and added a black bold belt, to create a perfect outfit, then  head to the Fashion Police Head, Fatima, striking my best pose.  She says, “Good, good, good, that could work”. I smile and say, “My night wear to the rescue”. Fatima laughs and says “who cares”. And I reply, “Who knows”. (this night wear could have been designed as an evening wear).

Pictures in the Palace

Pictures in the Palace

Ready for the palace, we set out on our mission. At the palace, I kept screaming out my signature greeting “Asalamalekun”, “Peace of Allah be upon you” one of the few words I have learnt all these years in Abuja
Entering the palace, I noticed it imbibed a culture of cleanliness. The spaces were neatly kept and there were trees all around, sinking all our emissions. If  everyone in Kano had followed the footsteps of the Emirate in keeping their surrounding clean, planting and nurturing their trees, the desert would not have become such a threat. The desert people would still have their homes and farmland intact as the trees would have been wind breakers.
Staying in harmony with nature has always been our culture. What happened to us? Why did we embrace the lie that development must be a fight against nature. It’s not yet late to do something. We can still develop in sustainable manner. The best time to plant a tree was 20years ago. The 2nd best time is now.
Even though we kept getting glances as we walked in and out of the palace, I knew no one IDied my night wear. Who cares any way. I am just glad I was palace ready and on a quest to fight desertification, climate change and ultimately save our planet. We can tame the forest, one tree at a time. Let your culture and way of life reflect your love and appreciation of our environment. Today, culture met fashion, and my passion.

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