When people say ‘dreams come true’ it is often with a tongue placed firmly in cheek and a double eye roll for good measure. But when the dream is not only to be part of but also to be contributing to, reporting on and celebrating African fashion, style, and beauty via a mega-platform like BellaNaija Style, my only response is a wide smile and a victory dance underneath my desk in my Rupert Sanderson shod feet.

To say I am honoured to be BellaNaija Style’s inaugural Editor At Large without giving any context is a bit like a sandwich without the filling. For any, all round aesthete (I love it all: fashion, food, art, music, furniture, beautiful buildings, you get the picture!), seeking and experiencing beauty is more than just ‘a thing’ it is a way of life. When we pursue the best course of action; whether it is in our mindset, values, or decision to close our eyes, quickly purchase and figure out where and when we will wear that Commes coat or Bridget Awosika dress to later, we dare to believe that intangibles such as feelings conflate with tangibles such as clothes, makeup and accessories.

We concede, that yes, a slick of MAC lipstick will make our smile brighter and the world better, and that our signature hair style is as much a marker of a commitment to consistency as the quality of the work we do in our everyday. Then there is the other exciting and important work BellaNaija Style is doing; which is articulating what it is to be African and stylish. This goes beyond the sick ensembles and other markers of the good life and cuts to the depth and breadth of our aesthetics and beliefs, wants and desires.

For too long, particularly in the media, we as Africans have been the ‘exotic other’, a curio even to ourselves. One only has to look at the many years wearing one’s hair natural was in the beauty wilderness, or it taking a Lupita and Alek to be anointed globally as beautiful, for darker shades to be considered as equally stunning as fairer ones, to know that there is still much work to do on how we perceive, present and celebrate ourselves. Put simply, it is too important a job to leave to external outside agents and all of us
at BellaNaija Style are on the ground and on the seat!

We, as a people are not homogeneous so expect to see as many variants of style and game-over beauty as we can find from across Africa. Furthermore, as the avid journeyman for all things fabulous, I will be reporting on it all with alacrity and joy in my heart.

Mazzi Odu