Am not a freak of foreign designers–Alariwo of Africa

Alariwo of Africa
Singer, Alariwo of Africa tells ‘Nonye Ben-Nwankwo why he wears only African fabrics

We know you as one artiste who must always dress African, has that concept changed?

It can never change. I wear only African fabrics.

Why has it always been like that?

The reason is simple. I am so proud to be African. I am a proud Nigerian. When you dress African and travel abroad, people look at you in admiration. They always turn to give you a second glance. I went for London Fashion Week and so many people wanted to take pictures with me because they loved what I was putting on. It is good for a white man to appreciate what you have that he doesn’t have.

So, you don’t wear suits?

I make suits and shirts with the African fabrics. It makes me stand out each time I am at an event. I love African fabrics. This is something I have been wearing for more than 25 years. I have so many suits and they are made with Ankara fabrics.

Are you saying we can’t catch you wearing a chinos pants or jeans?

I do wear chinos and jeans. But I have to wear a top that is African. The thing is that I can never be western all through. If I wear a T-shirt, my trousers will definitely be sewn in Ankara. My name is Alariwo of Africa. Even if I am wearing jeans, the T-shirt must be African. I have so many tie and dye T-shirts that are really nice. I can never be seen wearing English designs all through.

So you don’t patronise foreign designer labels?

I don’t have anything to do with them. I have respect for Nigerian designers. My elder brother is a fashion designer and he designs my clothes. I also have an uncle, Vivid Imaginations, who is also good. Mudi is my friend and he makes my suits. I have a local tailor who also makes clothes for me and he is very good. If I run into beautiful designs, I buy them. I went to Ghana recently and I entered a shop that had lovely stuffs, so I had to buy fabrics that were worth over N200, 000.

How come you don’t wear dreadlocks?

I have never worn dreadlocks in my life and I don’t intend to. I am not against those who wear dreadlocks. But I weave my hair if I want to shoot a video. I weave my hair because I am African. I started it long time ago. I love weaving my hair. It makes my hair stronger. It makes it more African and it makes my skull stronger.

What of tattoo and body piercing?

No way! I was created by God and I appreciate the way He created me. Tatoo is never my portion. I reject piercing and I will never do it. The people who indulge in such know why they do it. But I will never be a part of it.

Do you have other passion craze?

If you give me a pair of sandals, wristwatch or perfume, I will never forget you. I spend so much money on these items. I am a wristwatch freak. I have so many of them. I love perfumes like craze. I use 1881 and so many others. Even if my clothe is okirika, I must wear a good perfume and I must wear a beautiful pair of sandals. I wear shoes only when I have an event to anchor.

Do you follow trend?

I don’t do anything that is in vogue. The only thing that I ever did that was trending was to buy a Blackberry phone and it was out of pressure that I bought it. Following trend is very funny to me. I have always been me. I don’t like what is reigning. If you are driving a N10m car and I am driving a N1m car, they are the same; car is car. I always do my thing without looking at anybody.

But you are in show business?

The show in the business is becoming too fake. It is better for you to be real. It is out of shame that most people follow the trend even when they cannot afford it. The phones that members of my staff are using are more expensive than mine. I am a very casual person. If I am in a taxi and I am late for an appointment, I will hop down and take an okada. It is when you are not driving that people see you the most. When you are in your car, nobody notices you. If I am hungry, I go to any buka and eat, I don’t have to pretend.

But all this is called ‘packaging.’

What am I packaging? You have to remain simple and down to earth all the time. We should all try and stop pretending. Over ‘packaging’ is what is actually killing us in the entertainment industry. A lot of us are very fake. I am not ready to borrow a car and claim it is my own. What I don’t have, I don’t claim it is my own.

Nobody is hearing about you again, what is happening to your music career?

I just finished shooting my music video featuring Pasuma and Lord of Ajasa. I took my time. I have been doing stuff basically outside the country. The kind of music I do is basically appreciated over there than here. I run a consulting firm and I have an entertainment firm.

We learnt you just got an endorsement deal, how true is that?

It is true. There is this company that is into importation of Spanish wine. I am the brand ambassador. It is not always good to be noisy. Musically, I am coming slowly and surely. My album is coming out soon. I will shoot another video in August. The last album I released was in 2010.

Are you now in the movies as well?

Oh yes. I just shot a movie with my mentor, Femi Lasode. I have been getting offers to feature in so many movies but I keep turning them down because most of the movies we do in Nigeria are stereotyped. But when my boss invited me to do his movie, I had to do it. His movies are always epic. I was in the movie alongside Clarion Chukwurah, Jide Kosoko, Eddie Ugbomah and some others.

Culled from the punch

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