Tartans for Africa
‘Tartans for Africa’ is an initiative which is trying to improve the lives of as many ordinary people as possible throughout Africa by using one of the world’s distinctive symbols to create an inter-tribal, international identity for each African country which wishes to use it: an identity which creates awareness, but can also be utilised by all its citizens to promote their country and create self-sustaining employment.
Each African country has a national flag of two or more colours and, since the unique method of weaving tartan cloth lends itself to an almost endless variety of colour combinations, by selecting the colours in these flags, a unique, distinctive and appropriate tartan has been designed and woven for each country. During the design process International Tartans consulted, as far as possible, with High Commissions or Embassies and representative groups and individuals in the UK and Africa, and is pleased to record the contribution they all made. So far each design has been enthusiastically and universally welcomed, perhaps not surprising given that nearly every country in Africa has traditional forms of dress using colourful cloths.
I find your entrepreneurship inspiring, in particular the type of product. Tartans that inspire self-pride, a kind of cultural connectivity that is positive by using a product from one culture to infuse cultural relevance in another. In a subtle way it represents the entirety of what multiculturalism, inter-culturalism or whatever 'isms' seek to achieve.
"Alache Malia OdeSpecial adviser to the Minister, National Planning Commission, Nigeria Formerly lecturer in
International Development Birkbeck College, University of London
"30,000 children are dying needlessly from preventable diseases each day because of poverty. The pain and suffering in Africa is desperate. But we lose out too. Within those 30,000 children there is artistic talent now forever untapped, scientific discoveries never found, sporting achievements not reached, musical compositions never created. And we are all worse for it."
Jack McConnell, (former) First Minister
Opening address to the Africa Conference Scottish Parliament 2006
"Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. The task will not be easy. But not to do so would be a crime against humanity, against which I ask all humanity to rise up. Make Poverty History. Make History. Then we can all stand with our heads held high"
Nelson Mandela 2005
People in the so-called developed world often allude to Africans as if they were from a single mono-cultural country rather than a continent of 54 separate, richly diverse nations, each with its own unique mix of cultures, dialects, and ethnic groups. Nigeria alone has over 300 ethnic groups, 200 dialects, and even three different rules of law. The size of Africa is also under-estimated: it is truly vast. This cradle of humanity has deserts the size of the USA, a forest the size of India, countries three times the size of France, and contains all, and more, of the resources it needs for its one billion people. It is immensely rich in natural resources: its forests are so large they determine the weather patterns on the eastern seaboard of the USA, and it helps to feed and water the world. Without it the developed world would barely function. Yet the overwhelming majority who live there, live in poverty. Official figures show that forty-nine of these fifty-four African countries are amongst the poorest 50% in the world and, astonishingly, despite its riches, the fifteen poorest countries on the planet are in Africa. Malnutrition, AIDS, conflict and illiteracy are a daily reality for hundreds of millions in sub-Saharan Africa living on an average of less than a miserly dollar a day.
But it isn't chance or bad luck that keeps the peoples of Africa trapped in bitter, unrelenting poverty. It is exploitation: man-made factors like a glaringly unjust global trade system, a debt burden so great that it suffocates any chance of recovery, a lack of control over their own land and resources, and insufficient and ineffective aid, despite the selfless generosity and efforts of an army of ordinary men, women and children volunteers.