Africa hasn’t received much good press in recent years. Such things as genocide, child soldiers, elephant slaughters, and human trafficking can do that for a continent, overshadowing any good news and efforts.
However, the continent is attempting to rebrand itself, according to the International Herald Tribune.
“They are not my own words — they come from Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan — but I do believe in the ‘rebranding’ of Africa,” said Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of Vogue Italia, to the IHT about the May/June issue of L'Uomo Vogue that focuses on the continent.
The cover of Vogue's Italian men's fashion magazine, shown at right, features Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations — not your typical cover story.
“Africa does not need charity — Africa needs investment and partnership,” Ban Ki-moon states in the magazine, as translated by the IHT. “Joining forces with civil society and private sector, including non-traditional players, like the fashion industry, has become indispensable. Sustainable development is my top priority.”
Sozzani has firsthand knowledge of the continent through her role as a Goodwill Ambassador for Fashion4Development (tagline: "Giving Back is the New Luxury").
Fashion4Development is “a global campaign that uses fashion-based initiatives to support the United Nations’ wider issues in helping Africa,” the IHT notes. It looks like they picked the right woman for the job.
Sozzani is using her platform lto help present to the world a new Africa — a continent that is creative, stylish, forward-thinking, and filled with individuals and businesses that are sophisticated and passionate about tranforming the perception of "Africa," her nations and her residents.
“All the pictures are made in a glamorous way — there is nothing sad, trashy or poor,” Sozzani said of the special all-Africa issue. “People may say that Vogue does not want to talk about sickness and poverty, but if we can give an uplifting image, it is helping people who would not have considered Africa at all.”
As the IHT points out, though, it isn’t just about the fashion, though. It’s also about all the small businesses, the beauty of the area, its desirability to visitors, its rise as a place for movie production, and other signs of hope.
Every place has its good stories. Africa is ready to tell theirs.