The Ugandan business community and youth have been urged to adopt the Buy Uganda Build Uganda policy on locally made handicrafts and fashion items as a means of showcasing and marketing Ugandan talent.
While officiating at the Afri Art and Fashion fair in Kampala this weekend, Grace Mbabazi Awilo, Coordinator of the Crafts and Souvenirs Development Project under the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, revealed that Although the art and design sector employs a large number of Ugandans, the majority of citizens still have a negative attitude towards their homemade products.
“Let it be everyone’s responsibility to ensure that at least you have one of your rooms at home designed and decorated with our locally made artisan products. Not only does this make your home look more African, but it provides additional financial support for talented artists and designers who are employed by the sector,” Awilo remarked.
She also applauded Cerina Kasirye (the organizer) for mobilizing a group of marginalized girls and youth who managed to come up with unique designs that showcase “a real African touch”.
“The world is now already a global village, so the idea of creating this electronic platform where people around the world can access your artwork and creations is timely. I know business will not stay the same because you now have unrestricted access to the wider market,” she added.
Cerina Nalwoga Kasirye, founder of fashion boutique Trillionlooks and Art which works with young people and marginalized women, revealed that she decided to launch the initiative after establishing that the country had several skills initiatives, but that graduates had no market for their products.
“We organized the event to showcase the talents of models and designers who have better products but lack a serious platform to showcase them. I am so grateful that the event attracted people from all over the world and it gave visibility to these young people, especially since it is the first time that they have participated in a fashion show,” said Nalwoga.
She added that they have over 45 marginalized women whom they have supported to create the featured designs and products.
“We hope to support more creators like this provided they have quality products and report them to us,” she said.
Nabwanika Aisha, operations manager at the Uganda Tourism Association, was impressed by the spirit of innovation shown in particular by the designers of Kitenge (African fabric).
“Art and fashion are essential in the tourism sector of the country as it is the only service that can be touched, hence a tourist can buy them as souvenirs and these in turn can attract more visitors in the country,” Nabwanika said.