Another (Personal) Take On the “Bottom-up” Approach (By Eniola Adediran-Olade)

Posted: August 22, 2013 in Uncategorized



This piece was inspired by an article I read on this blog, titled “Another Reason Why Bottom-up Approach Should be the Norm in International Development”. The writer made an illustration of how he helped build a toilet in his home town in Burkina Faso. Using the “bottom-up approach”, he was actively involved in all the stages of the building of this toilet. He concluded by arguing that the adoption of a “bottom-up approach” by African governments will go a long way in ensuring the actualization of developmental projects.

In my own analysis, I am going to use the “bottom-up approach” to illustrate how the Nigerian textile industry should develop.

Now here is a personal story….

I am currently a post-graduate student of cultural history, with particular emphasis on traditional fabrics and its critical importance to the Nigerian cultural context. This process has inspired my theoretical and practical interest, and in particular the way it relates to development. My usual answer(s) to complain about the worrying state of development in Nigeria is as follow: what are you doing/have done to improve the nation? Have you picked up your shovel/spade to fill the portholes in your community? In what way are you contributing to the alleviation of poverty? Do you create jobs or are you simply waiting for the government to create more jobs? In what way are you thinking beyond “oil money”?

With that rightly said, I will tell you what I have done. I am a seamstress – a job creator. I also see my academic study as a platform for contributing to the revival of the ailing textile and fabric industry in Nigeria. In other words, I combine both the theory and practice of the textile trade.

And here is my philosophy: development begins with the individual. If I want the Nigerian textile and culture industry to develop, I should be the starting point. So I made it a point to wear and use at least one thing made by me, and anything African. Don’t get me wrong, I still wear foreign products, especially the ones made in Asia, which is what I can afford. So, I am a step ahead, how about you?

I have read about the slim possibility of the Nigerian textile industry bouncing back due to the myriad of problems which funding alone cannot address. It is obvious that the Cotton-Textile-Garment (CTG) industry is faced with power issues, high cost of raw materials, smuggling (a consequence of Nigeria’s membership of World Trade Organisation), and other bilateral agreements which allow other countries to dump textile products in Nigeria at very cheap rate.  Despite all of these inadequacies, the sector holds strong potential due to its natural cotton endowments, large market size and legacy sector knowledge. Another major potential is the Nigerian population of over 167 million people – a formidable market for basic textiles and apparel related goods.

I imagine a nation where citizens fully embrace and wear indigenous textile products. This will not only create an identity, it will lead to more production and in turn foster employment. Statistics indicate that the cotton and garment industry once provided employment to the millions of Nigerians, generated 25% of the GDP and contributed 20% of corporate taxation revenue in Nigeria. The textile industry generated an annual turnover of $8.95 billion before its decline in the 90s. With serious dedication, it could generate more in the future.

Change starts with the individual. If one person, or a group of people, decides to be different and say for instance “I will only patronize what is being produced in my country” this change of interest will affect others, and eventually have a national spread. In effect, quality products will be manufactured, the interest in foreign products will dwindle, and more private individual and entities will invest in the sector.

I dream of an Africa where Ankara is worn as school uniform, where public servants wear their Adire, Kente, Guinea brocades and Aso-oke to the office. I dream of an Africa when lawyers, bankers and doctors will be clad in African attire, and we will be free from cultural-colonialism.

In conclusion, a “bottom up” approach to development should be a way of life, a process that begins at the individual level and cascades to a wider plane.

My Nigeria is your Nigeria. My Africa is your Africa.


Follow this writer on twitter @edmandaolade

  1. tayo says:

    Soooooo correct. Bottom up approach to Nigerian problems will lead to a quick and efficient solution

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