Africa Defense Forum
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Artists Bring Quirky Fashion Styles to Accra’s Streets

Story and photos by REUTERS

With music equipment laid out on an ironing board, disc jockey Evans Mireku Kissi waves his drumsticks as he plays his tunes to a small audience on an Accra street. The crowd in the Ghanaian capital watches as he mixes beats and dances around his stand during the show.

Aside from the music, his quirky outfit — shirt and tie tucked into shorts under a waistcoat, thigh-high socks, brogues and a bonnet — also attracts attention.

Kissi, also known as Steloo, is part of a group of artists, musicians and designers in Accra whose unconventional outfits are turning heads on streets where most men wear conservative suits or shirts in traditional prints.

“People say, ‘What is this that you are wearing?’ People have a funny way of looking at [my clothes],” the 30-year-old said. “But then I like the fact that it is creating drama in the minds of the people.”

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

RTS59FPAges 19 to 38, they mix tailored jackets, printed T-shirts, vintage dresses and flares in quirky, sometimes eccentric, ensembles more often seen in London than Accra.

Kissi can be regularly seen posing for photo shoots across the city in colorful clothes, usually accessorized with sunglasses and a form-fitting cloth bonnet. Those styled portraits and selfies, often 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.

Kissi and his friends regularly meet in an art studio to exchange ideas. They say they look up to the “Sapeurs of Kinshasa,” who turned fashion into a polished art form during the times of Mobutu Sese Seko’s Zaire. But their unique style has also drawn criticism from the more conservative locals.

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

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.”

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