What's Behind Africa's Growing Popularity?

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond parses in Ebony how the economic downturn in North and South America and Europe is "making Africa look really shiny again."

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Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond writes in Ebony that Africa is experiencing something of a resurgence because, with economic woes in Europe, South America and North America, some are turning to the continent in search of fame and fortune. Is history repeating itself?

Discovery Channel's "Jungle Gold" reality series depicts "rookie American gold miners" seeking their fortunes in "the dangerous and gold-rich jungles of Ghana" after losing everything in the 2008 real estate crash. The Washington Post recently noted a wave of Portuguese citizens heading to Mozambique, quoting one Portuguese official as saying, "Everyone is feeling the pinch of the economic crisis, and Mozambique offers a lot of opportunities ... People think this is El Dorado."

The fashion industry is also taking serious interest in not only the styles popular on the continent, but in creating strategic business alliances as well. In 2012, for the first time Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week sponsored African Fashion International'annual event in South Africa. Likewise, Vogue Italia co-sponsored the inaugural Ghana Fashion and Design Week Editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani reportedly "initiated distribution of African fashion products through shops in Europe and America as well as through QVC" as a UN Goodwill Ambassador of Fashion 4 Development.

Under Sozzani L'Uomo Vogue dedicated its June 2012 issue to the continent, the cover line assuming responsibility for "Rebranding Africa." Sozzani explained in a Huffington Post piece about the issue: "Africa needs to rebuild a new image, far removed from the one the media usually convey reporting on wars and famines that, although actually occurring, are not the only side to show."

Read Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond's entire piece at Ebony.

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