The Ankara is one fabric that is so deeply ingrained in Nigerian culture that many people think it originated from here.
Like the Jollof rice which we didn’t invent but improved on and made amazingly more awesome (side eye to the Ghanaians, our jollof rice is still better than yours), Ankara is another non-Nigerian invention which we have claimed as ours and made world famous.
Ankara was formerly called Dutch Wax and it originated in Netherlands on the European continent. This fabric with its prints and motifs was made for the Indonesian market but quickly became more popular here in West Africa. Recognizing this unique market opportunity, the Dutch started producing more of this fabric for the West African market. These days, there are many brandssuch as Vlisco, Da Viva, High Target etc.
Although the above is true, I in my typical Nigerian way, subscribe to our version of the story which credits the invention of the fabric to the Yorubas of Southwestern Nigeria and the name “Ankara” to a beautiful girl who bore the name.
The Ankara can be used to make any and all kinds of designs be it trousers, shirts, jackets, skirts, or even gowns. From the year 2000, Nigerian designers have been incorporating the fabric into their designs and collection.This fabric has played a huge role in developing the Nigerian fashion industry and bringing worldwide attention to it.
The Ankara may not have originated here (according to some school of thought) but it has become a fabric (pun intended) of our society it’s as Nigerian as the green white green flag.