The major contrast I experienced with textiles between Africa and the UK is involvement. Tanzania is renowned for its bright and bold printed textiles, and the industry creates a variety of job opportunities. For example planting and picking the cotton to be ready to made into fabric, then the heavy machine work which consists of bleaching, dying etc. The men will normally do this as well as the design and colour work.
When the fabric is cut and ready to be sold the ladies will correct and sort out the different batches into shops. One can buy this cotton based print fabric for a cheap price, if desired this can later be sold to the tailors. This job role in the UK can be extremely expensive as it’s a bespoke garment which is handcrafted to your figure. In Africa to buy the fabric and have it tailored to you personally, came to roughly £10!
I came to experience how the role of textiles can be life changing especially for young girls as to learn tailoring can be a gateway to a better future from learning a trade to then becoming financially independent. This can have a hugely beneficial impact on relieving the pressure for early marriages.
Overall exploring the use of textiles in Tanzania was breathtaking from the craftsmanship of the design and the use of vivid lush colours. I greatly valued the experience and will never forget the people I encountered on my stay for their warm welcome and sheer delight in their hospitality.
Africa has changed me, not only as a person but as a designer. It was an incredible experience and I miss Africa daily.