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Ghana’s millenial avant-garde

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Young artists in Ghana’s capital have evolved a new style that is turning heads and challenging accepted notions of African fashion. Their passions span fine art, graphic design, music and, above all, clothes.

Their outfits get noticed in a city where most men wear conservative Western suits or, on special occasions, shirts made from traditional fabrics. The artists publish selfies on social media, projecting their style far beyond Accra.

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Music equipment laid out on an ironing board, DJ Evans Mireku Kissi waves his drum sticks as he plays his tunes to a small audience on an Accra street.

The crowd in the Ghanaian capital watch as he mixes beats and dances around his stand – complete with old iron – during the show.

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As well as the music, it is his quirky get-up – shirt and tie tucked into shorts and under a waistcoat, thigh-high socks, brogues and a bonnet – that also attracts attention.

“People say ‘What is this that you are wearing?’ People have a funny way of looking at (my clothes),” said Kissi, also known as Steloo.

“But then I like the fact that it is creating drama in the minds of the people,” the 30-year old added.

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The men and women in the group say they want to challenge traditional notions of African fashion, using social media platforms to share their creative outfits.

Aged 19 to 38, they mix tailored jackets, printed T-shirts, vintage dresses, flares and foulards in quirky, sometimes eccentric, ensembles more often seen in London than Accra.

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Kissi can be regularly seen posing for photoshoots across the city in colourful clothes, usually accessorised with sunglasses and a form-fitting cloth bonnet.

Those styled portraits and selfies, regularly uploaded online, have turned him into a local celebrity with his clothes as well as music drawing crowds to his parties.

“I have found myself as an artist,” he said.

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Kissi and his friends regularly meet in an art studio to exchange ideas. They say they do not have role models but look up to the “Sapeurs of Kinshasa”, who turned fashion into a polished art form during the times of Mobutu Sese Seko’s Zaire.

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But their unique style has also drawn criticism from the more conservative locals.

“I was told I wasn’t going to get a husband. I would be called names on the bus,” said artist Sena Ahadji, who used to have a mohawk.

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Support from others in the group helped her overcome the negative comments.

“A lot of pressure left me,” she said. “I am me. I am African. The fabric doesn’t make me African. My hair doesn’t make me African, but I know who I am.”

Source: Reuters

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