County District #9 Representative Munah Pelham Youngblood, is calling on Liberians to demonstrate love for country by wearing and promoting locally-made fabrics both at home and abroad. Representative Youngblood
stressed Liberians must be nationalistic not only in their deeds and thoughts, but learn to exhibit a patriotic spirit in what they wear, “We must now begin to promote and wear our locally-made country cloths.” She made the call Tuesday in a press conference hosted at the Capitol Building to climax the official activities of the 4th Session of the 53rd Liberian Legislature. The Montserrado County lawmaker said it is about time the
government adds its voice in supporting creativity or else, the nation’s locally made traditional fabrics will not be appreciated and recognized abroad if citizens do not take the lead in promoting them. She explained that while attending a conference on post-Ebola recovery with concentration on youth empowerment in Guinea recently, she was amazed by the level of appreciation the three Liberian delegates received from their Ghanaian and Nigerian counterparts for dressing in a fabrics produced by a local company in Liberia.
Youngblood, who represents the opposition Congress for Democratic Change or CDC, wants every Liberian to follow such example to put the country on par with other African nations. In an effort to empower small businesses, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced the “wear your pride campaign” in her Annual Message to the Legislature in January.
For many in Liberia’s thriving local fashion industry, the campaign announced by the President, if followed could bolster business and increase income as well as create more jobs for tailors, seamstresses and weavers across the country.
“I ask everyone to join in promoting the “wear your pride campaign” that would require all government employees to wear, at least once a week, preferably Friday, clothing made in Liberia from Liberians products,” the President said, and added, “We take this preferment of our people seriously and call upon everyone, public and private entities to comply fully with this new law of 25 percent or be prepared to face sanctions or legal action.
” SaiduToure, a tailor in Monrovia reacting to the news said Liberian tailors are prepared to shoulder the responsibility of producing quality clothing for the Liberian workforce and urged government officials to follow the President’s mandate by purchasing made in Liberia products.
“One thing I know, those officials will wear African clothes, but whether those clothes will be bought in Liberia, that I don’t know. Some of them will go to Ghana, Guinea or Nigeria to buy their clothes,” Toure noted. He stressed the sincerity and commitment of government officials to the campaign is critical in keeping it alive.
Blessing Rogers, youth Chairman of the National Tailor, Garment, Textile and Allied Workers Union, commended the President and the Minister of Commerce for the bold step taken to empower tailors, garment and Textile workers. “We want to thank the President and the Minister of Commerce Axel Addy, for honouring our request.
This is something we have been requesting the Ministry of Commerce to do”, Rogers said. He said the pronouncement would empower Liberian-owned businesses and that millions spent to purchase foreign clothes would now remain in the economy.
Rogers says if the campaign is fully supported, tailors would be able to produce not only for the Liberian market, but overseas as well. He urged the President to go beyond the pronouncement, and ensure access to finance that would enable tailors to pre-finance contracts given them.
“We hope that the President will go beyond the pronouncement and create opportunity, so we or tailors can access loans.
By Ben P. Wesee Montserrado- Edited by Jonathan Browne