While most of the coverage and conversation about Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon appearing on the cover of the May issue of Italian Vogue has centered humorously around fashion, its real significance is what he talks about — his deep commitment to helping the continent of Africa. He has a passion for Africa. Do you share it?
In the article entitled “ReBranding Africa”, Ki-moon shares his objective of changing the overwhelmingly negative public perception of Africa as a famine-ridden, war-torn hinterland by accentuating the positive aspects of this hugely diverse, resource-rich, beautiful continent that, more often than not, gets the short shrift by media.
This post from The Guardian seems to get it:
It’s not often we build a web article and find the need to tag it with the keywords ‘Ban Ki-moon‘ and ‘fashion’. Not that the UN secretary general isn’t stylish enough for us, but on this occasion L’Uomo Vogue has decided to give him the cover slot of their May issue in honor of an entire edition dedicated to ‘rebranding Africa’. Let them explain:
“Africa is a land with a myriad of resources and unexpected opportunities; above all it is a young continent with a huge desire for self-affirmation and for men and women to be guaranteed the same measure of dignity. It is a ‘continent in progress’, a land in constant evolution, with an ongoing commitment to offering its people better living conditions,” the editorial team at the Italian men’s branch of Vogue explain in a press release. It continues: “Africa needs to recreate an image for itself that moves away from the picture of war and famine habitually presented to us by the media. And indeed there is a positive side to the continent, one where there are textile companies, oil deposits and modern cities rising up in countries we are as yet unfamiliar with; huge steps forward have been taken in the field of education, which have led to the building of primary schools, high schools and universities.”
Who better, goes their thinking, to illustrate a celebration of Africa than Ban Ki-moon, who is interviewed by the magazine’s editor, Franca Sozanni, about the continent’s sustainable growth (the woman on the right is singer Lira, the picture is the other image being floated by L’Uomo Vogue to exemplify what else you can find between its covers).
When fashion magazines get political, it can be hard to grab readers’ attention without resorting to controversy. Putting Ban Ki-moon on the cover not only made us take notice, it suggests that L’Uomo Vogue’s dedication to ‘rebranding Africa’ isn’t just a token effort. That it comes so soon after Vogue Italia’s Haute Mess spread, which prompted a few people to raise questions about the difference between racism and poor taste is probably coincidence. That they have opted not to put an African person on the cover seems odd. But the image of a man (a very important man, at that) behind a desk, in a suit, the world sitting behind his shoulders, is clearly there to convey a certain seriousness. It will be interesting to see how such an exercise as ‘rebranding Africa’ plays out on the pages of L’Uomo Vogue.
Source: The Guardian