Swahili Fashion Week: Celebrating [email protected] in style


  • Swahili Fashion Week (SFW)) was founded by celebrated Pan-Africa couturier Mustafa Hassanali in 2008 to promote THE “Made in Africa” concept.

Swahili Fashion Week (SFW) has built a name for itself over the years as the biggest annual fashion event in Africa, providing a platform for fashion and accessory designers from Swahili-speaking countries and beyond.

This year is its 14th edition, and the organisers decided to tempt fate with an outdoor runway show at the Serena Hotel in Dar es Salaam - and, with no apparent backup plan in case of inclement weather, you can guess what happened!

The rains, in fact, came, but not hard enough to scare away devoted followers, who had eagerly awaited over 100 new designers fashion collections and awards ceremony for most fashion categories.

Held for three days from December 3 to December 5, this year’s theme was ‘Discover what makes Africa beautiful, as we celebrate 60 years of Tanzania Mainland independence’.

Eased pandemic restrictions made it possible for international designers to participate fully, and showcase their designs at the show in Dar.

As I made my entry at the Serena Hotel where the heart of event was, we were “welcomed” the long red carpet that directed us to the stage. But if you looked to the left and right, you saw some of the displays that made you to take a look at the fashion designs like culture clothes, bracelets and dime lights that go with the evening mood.

What I loved most was the actual space where the event was unfolding. Decorated in all-white from the runway stage to the guests’ chairs, all covered in white fabric. The Swahili Fashion stickers that directed attendees where to sit, either the VIP section, normal section or Media, and no matter where one chose to sit, the view was good because the lights were shining. Someone said that “even the blind could see”.

Marking the 14th edition Swahili Fashion Week brought to stage more than 92 designers from outside Tanzania, including fashion designers from the United States, Spain, Italy, Oman and other parts of Africa to showcase their creations.

Each day had its own set of designers. There were Bahati Zanzibar, Posh by Rinkie, priscieB from Uganda, Julia by Donbosco Osterbay, Angel Hudson, Junoon Kanga from the Sultanate of Oman, and others.

The Runway went hand-in-hand with announcement of Award winners. The Citizen journalist Diana Elinam emerged winner of the ‘Fashion Journalist of The Year’ award.

Some of the fashion designers who rocked this year’s edition managed to put a smile on attendees’ faces, including the African Touch. The African Touch runway was among the best, with the crowd cheering loudly while model cat-walked with swag, and posed in Wakanda-style, with their hands crossed.

People were amazed by the ‘Wakanda style,’including the way the models greeted each other.

The designs involved a mix of fabrics with well-blended colours that go with the style.

The man behind this is none other than Joel Feruzi, a student at the University of Dodoma, who is taking a Bachelor’s degree course in Chemistry.

Another ‘wonder’ was Neah Collection, a designer from Tanga. If the Neah Collection entrance was food, it would be ‘rice and beans:’ most people’s favourite dish that doesn’t go out of style.

Some models were painted as wild animals, and after that they start showcasing their African fabrics and bark cloth. That was an A+ for me... Also, don’t forget the swag and the dance...

Neah mixed her collection with fabrics and recycled plastics, shells and other natural beads. She artistically finished her garments by hand painting them, making them unique in a way.

She also used materials like Kikoyi, African fabrics and bark cloth, locally-made cotton, Western materials to add the touch and flavour.

Richard Makakala was astonished by the MKNuru Designs who also incorporated a tribute for Tanzania’s fifth President, the late John Magufuli who died on March 17 this year.

Richard says, “What I love about MKNuruDesigns fashion is that he incorporates colours from the Tanzanian flag and the cap with the name of former President Magufuli.”

Ommy Dimpoz

He adds that if you are a fan of super heroes movies, you will appreciate these, the way they show their appreciation of well-designed collections.

Other superb collections were by Ngaikunda Style designs, the JVS, and Emmanuel Kyaga - who showcased the Masai style. All amazing, I say!

There were several amazing fashion designs showcased in the three days that made me not wanting to blink and miss a thing.

Neelam Puja, who was among the attendees, said: “I wish to see more of these in the Swahili Fashion Week next year. They are very interesting, although I wouldn’t be able to wear all of the designs.”

During the event, designers used both men and women models. If I say so myself: those models deserve our respect, because they performed well: their walking style, their posture and their confidence were inspiring.

Swahili Fashion Week Awards

For many years, the event usually tried to recognize the contributions that were made by the people who participated in the fashion events. This year was somewhat different, as we saw artistes such as Nandy, Ommy Dimpoz, Marioo and others being awarded with different tittles.

The African Princess, Nandy took home the ‘Female Stylist Personality of The Year’ award, while the Male stylish Personality of the Year Award went to Ommy Dimpoz.

The ‘Me and You’ singer was competing against his fellow Bongo Flava artistes Quick Rocka, Jamal April, Jimmy Chansa, Rammy Galis and Hon Anthony Mavunde for the trophy.

The Fashion Journalist of the Year Award came home to The Citizen, having been won Journalist Diana Elinam. This is five long years after competing without success in past Swahili Fashion Week editions.

Marioo - with his hit single ‘Bia Tamu’ - was crowned as the Stylish Music Video of the Year winner for the video that was directed by Director Kenny.

Swahili Fashion Week (SFW) was founded by celebrated pan-Africa couturier Mustafa Hassanali in 2008 to promote “Made in Africa” designs.

“The platform intends to encourage talented designers to use it as a stepping stone to the next higher level in the fashion world,” Mustapha Hassanali said -during the official launch of the SFW.