RE: “Ban on cagua: Why Africa needs focused, resilient leaders” (The New Times, June 23).
How does wearing used clothes lower your dignity as a human being? When you walk down the streets, can you tell whether someone is dressed in newly bought clothes or used ones? In most countries that I have visited, I believe all that matters is that a person is well groomed and their clothes are well pressed and that they are presentable.
I am a finance professional and I have had an opportunity to live and work in Rwanda, Kenya and two Western countries as well. Even here in the West, used clothes are popular despite the people’s incomes being high as compared to that of East African citizens.
Over here, the used clothes stores go by the name, resale stores and thrift stores. And one of the most popular stores is the Goodwill Store. You may check out their website at www.goodwill.org and you shall get more information about their business model. Their slogan is donate+shop=jobs. They encourage responsible recycling and use of items that one no longer has need for.
If you felt that used clothes are just a thing for sub-Saharan Africans, you are wrong, people from all races and all walks of life also purchase used items. If you feel by making use of used clothes your dignity is lowered, then you ought to feel the same about owning a used car as well.
You should push for our leaders to also advocate for buying cars that are designed and made in Africa. The Mobius is one example of a car designed and made in Kenya.
The point that I am trying to drive across is that people will always go for an item that maximises their value for money, and will only purchase what is well within their means.
Regarding used cars, I would be more than happy if they are banned as well with practical substitutes. I believe Africans are not happy with used cars, but limited purchasing power and lack of substitutes become a very big obstacle to such a ban.
If our leaders started with secondhand clothes, it is for a reason: We can have affordable substitutes from within the region.
Regarding the high costs of new clothes, I agree partly with the views of some of us, because some of the used clothes are more expensive than the new ones. The fact that new clothes are expensive is economically justified as well.
Analysts should be “independent” minds. Our leaders are forward-looking. As a leader, one should try the best to take steps forward. If used clothes are bad, why should leaders promote them? One cannot be a transformational leader unless they are visionary.
What is painful to us today can be advantageous to future generations. The number one enemy of success is comfort. I don’t see why we should be comfortable with leftovers. It is a matter of vision and choice.
What we should be looking for is not comfort with used clothes, but improving on quality garment manufacturing. The first step should be today, not tomorrow.
Editor’s Note: The decision to ban importation of second-hand clothes was taken by the Heads of State of the East African Community (EAC), a six-nation bloc that includes Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.