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Looking for Aba Shoes in Lagos

I visited some shoe stores to test the effectiveness of the Aba shoe rebranding project. What I saw is not encouraging; nothing has changed.

Simply, I was unable to find one shoe seller who could confidently claim that his shoes were made in Aba, Nigeria. The regulars - Paris, New York, Sicily, etc- dominated.

The implication is that Aba leather sector is subsistence, with men working for years with nothing to show for it. It is not seen as a business, it is a cultural career with men having fun, and not being in positions to earn decent wages to help and support families.  They make shoes with their hands and barely can find margin to send kids to good schools and cover medical expenses. They are artisans in a global industry, full of legends, who make money doing what they, but in different ways.

The Abia State govt (my home state) has made it a policy to rebrand Aba with some anchors outside the nation. Interestingly, if Lagos does not take you serious, it is unlikely Paris and New York will.

But this is not an Aba problem: this is a Nigerian problem. It was painful watching hot lies where shoe sellers tell Nigerians that shoes made in Nigeria were made in Paris just to get them to open their purses. I got a dose from a young lady: “I do not want any Aba, please”. When she left, the man smiled, she bought two Abas without knowing!

There is certainly a need for national rebirth in Nigeria.

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