There are those creative artists and designers who spend their whole time trying to create something of unique quality, and those who simply steal their creations and try to reproduce them in bad copies of the original product that has a devastating effect. Africa is still weak in protecting its creative fashion designers, which is also why Africa is more and more invaded by cheaper imitation of designs made elsewhere other than Africa, killing any possibility for African designers’ market to grow and thrive.
Yes, of course, those who see fake copies of original products on sale in the stalls of some markets may not immediately know they are so, and may buy them for their unique quality. But the ones who are involved in producing these fakes are effectively destroying any chance of a genuine African business and creative industry to take off. For their petty personal gain, they kill something much bigger, which is already constantly challenged by all the difficulties involved in keeping a creative business going. For their selfish personal gain, they steal jobs from other Kenyans, and Africans as a whole, by killing what could become a thriving industry, transforming their African motherland into a place that can only be colonized by products coming from outside Africa.
Artisans put in hours and hours of hard work; toiling day and night to create something of unique quality that their heart and passion drives them to produce- only for a lazy thief to steal what is not theirs.
So, do not be surprised when you read of Kenyans being subject to all sorts of harassment from their foreign masters running business in Kenya. Until truly original Kenyan businesses are hampered to thrive by those petty robbers who copycat original African/Kenyan designs, Kenya cannot then become more of a colony of foreign business. Eventually the price will be paid in terms of jobs that cannot be created by Africans for Africans and also in terms of becoming subject to foreign domination instead of growing proud of an item of unique quality that is not only Kenyan- made but also Kenyan-produced.
Some imitators have been approached by business insiders with the question as to why they choose to copy designs as opposed to taking time to go through the creative processes to conceive an artifact of unique quality. In their defense they said that they do not copy, rather get inspiration. Which is nothing but a lie, as duplicating the exact/almost exact same thing of someone else’s creation has nothing to do with getting inspired: it is just theft! It is high time we embraced creativity, originality, passion, our stories, and our culture to give life to living pieces of art rather than stealing from someone else’s story to create a nightmare they will live seeing their crafts cheaply duplicated for the sake of money.
Art is life and life is art; when you ‘steal’ someone’s art, you steal a piece of their life as well! Therefore: fakes kill Africa. They kill the chance of Africans ever becoming masters of themselves, for the selfish gain of those who thrive on theft of others work and destroy, by so doing, any chance of a genuinely Kenyan industry, and the jobs that come with it, to become anything than –very, very sadly- a stillborn baby.
ps: These are just a few pieces of our copied jewellery.