Charged with a mission quite different from her usual protocol, Roberta Annan spearheaded the logistics for L’Uomo Vogue’s Africa Issue. Taking the lead on behalf of Fashion 4 Development, Roberta was invited to join, as her expertise in working with governments around the world is considered bar none.
Originally from Ghana, but now based in New York, Roberta has diplomacy in her DNA. With both her parents working for various government, she says of course, “there is an advantage to being African when you are working with African governments”, but international relations, is “a skill you must grow to get over time”. Roberta appears particularly proud to be working with Fashion 4 Development on this diplomatic mission, as although fashion may not be her métier; she says: “Finally this can be a time for Africa to shine”.
With the consensus that “Africa is not only about resources but also about people”, Roberta hopes L’Uomo Vogue’s Africa Issue will encourage, “people to look at Africa differently”. She also hopes, governments will be motivated “to drive more business and training” into the flourishing industry of fashion. As after all, with consumers spending over one trillion dollars annually on clothes, it is a hard industry to ignore.
Having contacted numerous heads of state and foreign offices for this project, Roberta notes, the key is to have liaisons on the ground. In other words: “People who are friends but who are also dedicated to this positive cause”. Referring to individuals such as Ambassador Joseph Huggins, Kola Karim and Charles Mbire, Roberta says this project was “all about great team work”, and she could not have achieved it on her own. With the paradigm quickly shifting, she says, “we have already received calls from stores in Milan and New York enquiring about specific African designers to place orders”. Yet hopefully the impact will continue further, and “influence governments all over Africa to consider the initiative”. Becoming more of a specialist in fashion development than maybe expected, Roberta says: “It’s been a great learning curve that hopefully won’t end here”.
Nina Flohr, L’Uomo Vogue, May-June 2012 (n. 431)
Read the full article here.