UGANDA: Homegrown textiles not preferred by locals

KAMPALA: Small children in Uganda wear shirts from Adidas, shorts from Nike, the socks from Brooks and the spiked shoes from Asics.  The children are not American. 

They wear the clothes and accessories from a previous owner from another country who no longer wanted it and discarded it for something new.

Most Ugandans wear imported second-hand clothes, as do many people in poor Third World countries. Used shirts, blouses, trousers, caps and many other clothing items reach Uganda in huge bales from countries such as the US and the UK.

After landing in Africa, the clothes find their way along a chain of wholesalers until they end up with small retailers in thousands of trading centers dotted around Uganda and other African countries.

Such second-hand clothes are known in Uganda as mivumba. The main market for mivumba in Kampala is Owino Market.

This second-hand clothes reality for Ugandans results in many interesting situations in different areas of life. But every item will have one thing in common it will have had a previous owner from another country who no longer wanted it and discarded it for something new.

This flow of second-hand clothes can be viewed as an important form of recycling.

There are calls in the Ugandan media for banning imports of second-hand clothes to promote the development of homegrown textile industries and enhance economic growth. But most Ugandans prefer the cheapness and a variety of styles and fashion provided by imported second-hand clothes.

The clothes cost around 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings.


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Added: July 3, 2007 Source: Agencies
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