Oct 18th, 2017, 04:25 PM

Wax Is Not African

By Katie Zambrano
Image Credit: Facebook/AUP Inspire Africa
The 'Inspire Africa' Club discusses the history, origins and importance of wax

AUP's 'Inspire Africa' club recently held its Wax with Africa event this past Friday. At the event, an in depth presentation followed by a debate took place discussing the theme of wax—an extremely important fabric within the African community.

Vice president of the club, Rokhaya Wade, explains: "This event is a statement from our club. We want to redefine the "Africanity" of the wax fabric and bring our members to truly question it."


Image credit: Caroline Thee

At the event, Deborah Golan, communications manager, explained that Wax is one of the most iconic and recognizable characteristics of African culture. Typically made from 100% cotton, the fabric is adorned with vibrant, eye-catching motifs and patterns. It is one of the most diverse fabrics of its kind, used for accessories to garments the possibilities remain endless. However, Golan emphasized that while Africa holds the biggest market for Wax, the "patterned material is not originally African". Gloria Atanga, president of the club, also stressed: "Wax might have a little or much of African influence, but it is important to recognize the original from the copy."


Image credit: Caroline Thee

Wax was inspired by an Indonesian fabric called "batik." This method consists of designing a pattern using wax, covering the fabric and dyeing it. The fabric covered by the wax will resist any dye, thus leaving behind an intricate pattern. This method was further developed and soon began to be manufactured in large factories for mass production. As a result, this fabric once made for an Asian market soon migrated to Africa and was a huge success. Surprisingly, much of Wax is manufactured in Europe. Sold by the yard, consumers can buy the necessary amount and take it to a tailor of their choice and have just about anything made.

Communications manager, Deborah Golan, presenting why Wax is not African. Image credit: Caroline Thee

Golan continued to explain that the hugely popular African market was not limited to Wax: "the original African fabrics such as the Kuba from Congo, the Kente from Ghana, the Bogolan from Mali" are just as significant and symbolic of the culture. Different fabrics from different regions and tribes show just how diverse the African community proves to be.

While Wax does not originate from Africa, the citizens of Africa embody it, making it their own.

Join the Inspire Africa club next Friday, October 27, for an African Movie Night. All information about the club and future events can be found on their Facebook page.