WHEN filmmaker, Kunle Afolayan started the idea of a traditional wear called kembe, it was to further boost his portfolio as a promoter of tradition. Somehow, the initiative appears to have wowed the filmmaker who is currently pressed with demand for the product by fellow celebrities, socialites and politicians who have found the simple-styled fashion as refreshing leisure attire.
“Have you delivered Ali Baba’s order…?” He was heard asking one of his subordinates when The Nation called his phone. ‘Sorry bro,” he said to our reporter; “This Kembe sales has taken another dimension o, walahi,” in his usual affirmative tone. True to his words, the Instagram is abuzz with photos of other celebrities who are rocking the baggy styled pants beneath the T-shirt. So far, we have seen entertainers like Toyin Abraham and Femi Adebayo showing off with their kembe.
Afolayan says the next few months will show an array of other top celebrities, socialites, politicians and fans wearing the attire, adding that A-listers like Richard Mofe-Damijo, Ali Baba, Desmond Elliot, Faithia Balogun and Falz the Bahd Guy are among those who have made purchases of the wear.
Describing the kembe as something which is fast becoming a household name, he revealed that the brand which is about launching into international shipping is just one collection under a parent company called Ire Clothings.
For the filmmaker, apart from the fact that the idea is another source of revenue for him – a huge one at that – having sold about 400 pieces in two weeks, “it is one of the things about our heritage that has captured the pop culture. The motive is trado-modern, and I am glad to be promoting it.”
According to the filmmaker who is a member of the board of Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture,” this attire is one of the products that I intend to also use to promote Lagos. It is one of the souvenirs that tourists will have to take away from here subsequently. And I must add that all fabrics are locally sourced and so are the hands used in piecing them together. It is hundred percent Nigerian.”
In 2016, The Nation described the filmmaker as a man who uses filmmaking to convey his several other callings; among which is the promotion of Nigerian arts, culture and tourism. It reads: “In his bid to harness Africa as a continent with similar culture and tradition, Afolayan’s latest film, The CEO, is another modern film that did not lose the flavour of nature and tradition. Not only is the musical chair game nostalgic, the Nigerian attire is made to fit elegantly, even on the white South African cast.”
Another strong incident that defined this filmmaker’s passion for tradition was his recent trail of Yoruba deities; considered as the original religions of Africa which he noted have been declining over time, owing to the influence of western culture, Christianity and Islam. According to the filmmaker, Ifa, the original religion of the Yoruba, is one of such African religions caught in this erosion and Afolayan thought it would make an interesting exposé if reasons leading to this are revisited and presented in film documentary. The result was a series of lessons on Yoruba traditional religion that made debut on Mnet on January 1, 2013.