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When Nigerians think of fashion and visual art, they think of places like Lagos, Benin, Abuja and other cities. Ganiyah Sani is changing that narrative with Gazelle creative and KAFART(Kaduna Fashion and Arts Exhibition) founded in 2019 the organisations were made to promote the fashion and arts scene in Kaduna and Northern Nigeria. Two exhibitions have been conducted so far, with 1000 people in attendance. She was recently accepted into Africa culture Fund cultural management boot camp.
Document Women had a sit down with Ganiyah to discuss her life and work.
Could you tell us about yourself?
I’m Ganiyah Sani, the founder of Gazelle Creative Collective and KAFART (Kaduna Fashion and Arts Exhibition). I’m from Kwara State and live in Kaduna, Nigeria. I studied chemistry at the University of Ilorin. I’m passionate about fashion, art and the environment. I enjoy dancing, gardening and a quiet time with nature.
How were you like growing up where you were always interested in fashion and arts?
Growing up, I used to indulge in creative activities such as drawing and colouring at home, building houses with sand, as I got older I found myself drawn to creative clubs in school. I’ve always been interested in fashion and arts but I didn’t know how to express myself properly at the time.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration from seeing works of artists and fashion designers here and beyond. Exhibitions similar to mine also inspire me as they open my eyes to new worlds of possibilities and how I should keep aiming higher despite the constraints around me.
When did the idea for KAFART come up?
KAFART came up from the rapidly growing creative community in Kaduna and Northern Nigeria at large. I saw that there were a lot of visual artists and fashion designers who stood out and needed to be seen collectively on a grand scale by locals and audiences beyond.
How did setting it up go?
The preliminary plans were rocky but I’m grateful to community members turned partners who believed in the vision and were keen to take fashion and art to the next level in Kaduna State. We had a lot of people who discouraged the idea but we still got some people who encouraged us to keep going. I didn’t know much about organizing exhibitions at the time but I asked a lot of questions which paved the way for me to make better decisions and get a great outcome in the end.
What were you looking to achieve with KAFART?
I wanted to put Northern Nigeria on the map for creative excellence, which meant showing the less-seen parts of the North. I wanted to celebrate underrepresented cultures in the community through art and fashion. Contributing to the professional and creative development of artists and fashion designers are some of what we would like to achieve with KAFART. I also wanted these creatives to have access to bigger markets and grow their networks.
Seeing as Northern Nigeria isn’t known for any of the things KAFART was created for, what were the difficulties you faced?
I faced difficulty getting support from organizations that would have supported a similar project elsewhere. It wasn’t easy getting a lot of people to be aware of the event because such projects aren’t regularly done here. Getting access to funding was another challenge we faced because nobody truly believed in KAFART enough to sponsor it back then.