From time immemorial, fashion has always been a means of expression. It was what Adam and Eve used to tell God that they now had knowledge of good and evil. It’s one of the reasons the Ghanaian government thought it wise to implement ankara school uniforms.
Sometime in February 2021, the Ministry of Education in Ghana endorsed the use of ankara school uniforms. This was not only an innovative development but also proof that African fabrics aren’t to be worn as traditional wears alone. They have a place in the educational sector which we are yet to explore.
Since the introduction of school uniforms by our white colonial masters, fabrics for production has always been limited to plain and pattern.
For instance, a popular fabric used as uniform in schools back then is the Gingham fabric. What schools usually do is to pick a particular colour(s) they want to be identified with and make it their uniform. In essence, we took what those who brought formal education to us gave us and didn’t dare to change the norm.
Ankara School Uniforms as a Means of Expression
Thanks to countries like Ghana, ankara school uniform is becoming a thing. Now African prints are worn in an educational setting, not by teachers but by students. This itself serves to promote a number of things:
1. African Culture
Ankara school uniforms are a tangible way to promote and preserve our culture and heritage as Africans. By mere wearing of these African prints, the students learn more about their culture.
2. It Reinforces African Identity
When all the students in a school don ankara school uniforms or any other African textile, it engenders a feeling of identity in them. These uniforms are a subtle yet loud reminder that they are Africans regardless.
3. Freedom from the Shackles of Colonialism
Since it was our white colonial masters who brought formal education to our doorstep, they came with their rules too. And one of these is school uniforms.
They didn’t just give us school uniforms but dictated what it should look like and which fabrics should constitute it.
For years, we danced to their tune, modelling our school uniforms after theirs. However, it is a good thing that we are waking up and beginning to see the multifunctional and uniformity of our indigenous fabrics.
Ankara isn’t for wedding Aso Ebi purposes alone. Neither is it just a Sunday best. It can pass for school uniforms too. And this is also a great move in breaking free from the shackles of colonialism.
Moreso, the good news is that Ghana isn’t the only African country doing this. Ogun and Anambra states of Nigeria have also implemented the use of African fabrics as school wear.
Although some may argue that using the prints makes no difference unless we imbibe our traditional styles too. It still doesn’t change the fact that this is a good move to educate learners about our culture through fashion.
However, if you look at it, wearing Agbada or Iro and Buba to school would be inconvenient for the students. Hence, easy-to-wear styles are what we can settle for whether they have a western undertone or not.
Therefore, rather than reserve our fabrics for traditional occasions and Sunday attires, give them a place in the educational sector too. This way, we not only have ankara school uniforms but also adire, kente, dashiki and other African fabrics in schools.