31 Jan

If there’s one virtue to extol when it comes to the internet- it is definitely the fact that access to information and the bridging of geographical divides is astounding – I love to read vibe weekly (an online mag) as the articles are fresh and the writing is good and while I was perusing it this morning -I came across an exclusive interview with an African fashion designer I first heard of in December of 2009 – A Nigerian by the name of Mudi- as I read the interview several things really stood out for me and with Mutheu’s permission – I re-print sections of the interview below (with my take included) Interspersed with some of Mudi’s outfits;

MUTHEU: How did you start your business?

MUDI: You know in Africa, we have a major problem of not believing in ourselves and in others’ ideas. We don’t have the ambition and drive sometimes too. When you bring your idea to someone they tend to pull you down.

I started with less than 17,000/-, looking for space to rent for a shop. I would walk around begging people to give me money, office to office. It was tough. They didn’t have the vision that I did, and couldn’t see what I could see. By the grace of God I ran into an actor, who agreed to give me the money. I didn’t want him to think that I was a con artist. So I went and registered the shop in his name, and his brother came along to see what I was doing. Three months later I had finished setting up the shop and equipment. And started the hard work. The first two years were tough. After this I needed to renew the lease on the shop but I didn’t have enough money. I went to a friend, who is like a senior brother to me. I begged him to help me – without disclosing what I needed the money for. He unfortunately didn’t see the idea and vision that I had and instead he encouraged me to go into selling ready-made clothes from shop to shop and house to house. He didn’t see the plan that I had. It’s a very thin line between poverty and success, and you have to realize that point. That was my point right there. I chose to walk away and keep working, believing that I would solve the problem. And lucky enough, in two weeks, I sold enough designs that helped sort out the financial issues.

SEANICE’S TAKE: Wow – now that is what I call perseverance – how often do you have an Idea, start to imagine everything that could go wrong and then give up? Also laser like precision – we can’t do it ALL – I know i suffer this problem as I am always trying to do too many things at once!

MUTHEU: As an accomplished business man, what do you think is the biggest obstacle in running a business in Africa?

MUDI: I think it is human resource. People need to stop bringing others down and believe in African businesses. They should not question why I am an investor, but instead they should work as if it were a non-African’s business.

SEANICE’S TAKE: Ummmm not sure what non-African’s business means but the harsh reality is that at times we truly are our own worst enemy! We settle, we procrastinate, we don’t keep time, we don’t pay attention to detail – someone once argued with me and said that this is because we have many problems that set us back so we lack focus; we have disease, corrupt officials and poor roads making us late, forcing us to settle, diverting our focus… a cop out?


MUTHEU: Why do you think Kenyan women are so enthralled with Nigerian men?

MUDI: It’s what we call swag – Nigerian men have swag. But sometimes some overdo the swag and come across as arrogant. You have to be able to balance swag and being a gentleman. Even in Ghana and across west Africa, they think the same of Nigerian men – it’s not our fault! We know how to treat women right.

Though I would like to point out that there are two categories of men in Nigeria – there are those who will throw money at you and pet you. They will not build you and grow you as a woman. All they will do is throw money at you. These men have no self-confidence and sense of self-worth.

But on the other hand, there are other men who will give you just enough money to cater to your needs, but he will love and respect you. Even when you go wrong, he will correct you. He will not spoil you for the wrong reasons. And you will be happier knowing this man values you as a woman. So other men just have to know how to treat their women better.

SEANICE: I found his take on African men refreshing; the good and the bad!- shoot me if you will but I’m going to go ahead and tell the truth here- I do not understand my African men- what they want, how they want it or even why?! At times i feel they don’t understand themselves! Trapped in a world where you must act masculine but compete with women in grooming! Where once you were the sole bread winner you now have to adjust; watching your father treat your mother one way and then reading that it was wrong; it cannot be easy!
Just as I feel I’ve figured my brothers out; I get called to a girlfriends house at 2am to save a domestic situation from becoming a criminal one – I then wonder where did this go wrong? of course not all men are the same but I was shocked at the number of corporate women in Kampala who are being beaten by their husbands! I’m going to save that for another day another discussion because it’s long and requires probing of certain angles but all in all I truly like what he said about a good man re-enforcing your self-confidence and worth; because the more I think about it; that is in fact what a good person should do to all those they come into contact with

have a day filled with the realization of your self worth!
Sean ….




  1. Mutheu January 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Thanks for the props!!

    I was so in awe of Mudi. He’s such a humble guy! If you didn’t know him, you’d pass him by.
    By Non-African, he meant that when foreign investors come into Africa, we tend to give them more priority and respect, and bow and scrape, yet we tend to ignore and look down on our own doing the same – investing in their homeland.

  2. malaikajoy March 24, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    I love this article! And I love your blog as well! It was very eye catching for me. I usually just go through the pics and leave the reading but this time I read the articles and skipped over the pics. I love this article Mutheu…very motivating. About Nigerian men, being a Nigerian woman myself I have had lots of men throw money and material things at me. And it is very true about the two types of Nigerian men. But what I can say for Nigerian women is they do not lose their sense of worth. Nigerian women are very hard working and even if their husband or guy is rich and well off and throws money at them all the time they still work their asses off.They do grow even through that. They would have an office job, a marketing job, a shop or some type of business on the side, even working from home if they just had a baby. Nigerian women are very business minded and always hold their heads up high no matter what. Sorry to say, they are not like Ugandan girls who would spend it all on shopping, clothes, shoes and parties like I have seen since coming to Uganda (I have been here for 5 years now!) Nigerian females would continue to study all throughout their lives even until they are in their 40’s or 50’s and have 6 children. This is to widen their circle of knowledge and also to help them get better jobs. Not to say Nigerians girls don’t shop. They do!! They are always stylishly dress, always with their hair done with the latest Nigerian or western fashion clothes and shoes. They will even travel for just a day to buy a hat they saw in a high fashion store in Italy but they do balance it out with studies, family, and definitely work! They have savings accounts and invest their money as well. Their generosity is also to be spoken of. They will definitely help a brother or sister in times of need. They believe if God has given them they should help their fellow man. And that is after all their hard earn sweat and time put into their earnings. Nigerians in general are very strong believers in education. This is not to say all Nigerian girls are like this and definitely not to say all Ugandans girls are like that either. But recently I talked to an all out party Ugandan girl frequently seen in clubs and hanging out with her friends. Beautiful thing. Anyways in a talk at Emin Pasha with her I found out she has a 1 year old baby. I asked if she is starting work again now since her baby is weaned. And she was humming and hawing. I asked her what type of work can she do cus’ I was ready to find a job for her like I have done for my other friends. Her answer was, “I can do this and that, I like fashion, maybe I’ll find some type of job. I can do computer work….” I asked her what kind of computer work she did, computer programming or graphics or something like that. And she said “No, I just know some computer stuff.” Geez, anyone with a resume like that should not be hired. I could see she is one money is thrown at so she could satisfy her fashion sense and need to party and hang out with guys but nothing is invested for her future or future of her kid. Sad. It is not just her, I know a lot of Ugandan girls exactly the same… no long term vision just party, party, party now, now. But, of course on the other hand, I always read in various Ugandan magazines of all these Ugandan women that motivate me and capture my 25 year old heart. I get very impressed of people with motivation, guts and stick-to-it-ive-ness, as a friend of mine puts it, and of course a success story to go along with it.
    I know I am not one to judge. My resume is not that impressive education-wise but I think if you have an opportunity to invest,study, work, plan for the future then go for it. People, and guys especially will admire you all the more. Money will still be thrown at you but this time around it will be invested in something worth your while, something that people can admire you for years to come. Not clothes that will fade, men that will come and go, drinks that will disappear in one moment, fair weather friends. The people who are admired these days are the one with a vision for the future, ones that even with little or no education still try to make a difference in their part of the world.

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