– African-print shirts that are motsly made at Rivatex in Eldoret have become part of the president’s household design clothes
– The design originated in Indonesia in the 1880s where a method of wax-resist dyeing called batik was used
– The head of state has consistently maintained wearing the shirts and has always asked Kenyans to wear them
Since the coronavirus pandemic, President Uhuru Kenyatta has been very consistent in wearing locally manufactured shirts during his address to the nation.
More often these shirts have been causing a stir on social media every with Kenyans likening them to their housewares such as the seat covers and curtains.
His love for the shirts has seen many nickname him ‘jamaa wa mashati’ and so intense are the shirts that at one point Kenyans thought they should give his lookalike Michael Njogo to wear one of them and reopen the economy.
Little known to many, a majority of the shirts that he wears have been made at Eldoret-based Rivatex East Africa Limited.
Typically loose-fitting and comfortable-looking, the shirts often carry African print designs.
The intensely coloured fabric style originated from Indonesia, where a method of wax-resist dyeing called batik was used.
The design was taken up in West Africa in the 1880s before it spread to other parts of Africa and became a household design for Africans.
The clothes were mostly worn during traditional African ceremonies and often presented as gifts, used to make other elaborate pieces, including bags and shoes as well as being hang up as decorative pieces.
For President Uhuru, his wearing of such shirts is a deliberate effort to encourage Kenyans to wear them in a bid to boost local textile companies.
“In support of the local textiles sector, the president continues to encourage Kenyans to wear locally made clothing and items and is leading the way with his colourful authentic Kenyan print shirts,” read a Facebook post by State House on Sunday, August 31, that was acompanied by a display of some of the shirts the head of state had worn.
At one point the head of state gave directive to all government officials to ensure they wear locally made fabrics on every Friday.
Apart from government officials, have Kenyans taken up the initiative? Are they affordable? Where are they sold?
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