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Mudiaga Enajemo and His Threads of Legacy

Mudi Africa is a fashion house founded in Nigeria by this indomitable fashion icon.
May 19, 2024
1:54 am
Mudiaga Enajemo
Mudiaga Enajemo

It would be impossible to discuss African fashion without mentioning Mudi Africa. Clement Mudiaga Enajemo, the creative force behind this recognizable brand, has left a lasting impact on the business.


Mudi Africa was founded in 1993 and has since been known for its creative and innovative designs that skillfully combine traditional African features with modern flare. Mudi Africa has become a household name and a global symbol of ethnic pride thanks to Enajemo’s commitment for displaying African heritage through fashion.


The company’s designs have graced the likes of King Mohammed V of Morocco, former President of Ghana John Kufuor, broadcaster Kwasi Kyei Darkwah, and renowned musicians Salif Keita and Youssou N’Dour, among others. Footballers such as John Obi Mikel, John Fashanu, and Kolo Toure, along with actors and directors like Richard Mofe-Damijo, Fred Amata, Basorge Tariah Jr., Ramsey Nouah, Desmond Elliot, and Olu Jacobs have also been seen donning MUDI’s garments.



In addition to these accolades, Mudi has received numerous awards, including Best Clothing Line by Effizzie Magazine in 2009, Fashion and Beauty Awards from City People in 2011, and the Dynamic Entrepreneurial Ingenuity award from the Government College set of 1979 class in 2011. Furthermore, he was honored with the Lagos State University Students Representatives Council Award of Excellence in 2012 and was recognized as the Most Influential Person in Fashion in 2012, among other prestigious recognitions.


TNR had the honor of speaking with the organization’s founder, Clement Mudiaga Enajemo about the amazing journey of Mudi Africa. The conversation traversed the highs and lows, unveiling the nuances of how this legendary brand came to be an unstoppable force as Enajemo discussed with TNR his journey to the top, his successful collaborations, and his aspirations of displaying the Mudi Africa brand on an international stage.


Starting the conversation, we asked Mudi Enajemo about his background. Coming from Delta State and a polygamous family of about 27 children, he overcame societal expectations to pursue a career in fashion, especially when traditional professions like medicine and engineering are often prioritized.



“Growing up, I realized that people’s perceptions shape our lives, but we have the power to defy those expectations. My upbringing, surrounded by friends and family who valued dressing well, instilled in me a keen sense of identity and purpose. I think that believing in oneself and staying true to one’s aspirations, despite societal pressures, is important.


“Yes, I come from a polygamous family, but I remained steadfast in my beliefs and focused on my goals. It’s about having the confidence to build a life based on personal beliefs and principles, regardless of the challenges. As for me, knowing about fashion, and whether I wanted to venture into it, my brothers and friends would often tell me, “Guy, you know how to dress o!” They would always compliment my fashion sense, and this made me wonder if I could explore the world of fashion. I’m glad I did.”


Continuing the conversation, we prompted Mudi to elaborate on the journey of founding Mudi Africa, from its inception in a modest one-bedroom apartment to forging partnerships with A-list celebrities like Richard Mofe-Damijo, popularly known as RMD.



“I started in 1993 with a strong belief in possibility. My focus wasn’t on immediate breakthroughs but on consistent hard work, determination, and self-belief. Beginning from a humble apartment in Ketu, I persevered, learning from mistakes, and embracing the growth process.


“Through continuous effort, opportunities began to emerge. Collaborating with celebrities like RMD wasn’t accidental; it was the result of proving myself through dedication and expertise. Over time, my dedication to excellence earned the trust and patronage of clients, leading to further success.”


It should go without saying that challenges precede any achievement. Moving on, Enajemo talked about the biggest obstacle he had ever faced when creating his enterprise.



“Starting Mudi Africa during a period of military rule presented its own challenges, but that’s a story for another day. Also, there was no social media at that time. All we had were newspapers. This caused a limited spread of information about my services and, of course, reaching potential customers was an uphill battle. Another difficulty I would say I faced was the prevailing preference among Nigerians, especially men, for Western attire, leaving the market for traditional Nigerian clothing small. These circumstances could have easily led to frustration and a temptation to give up.


“However, despite the daunting challenges, I remained steadfast in my determination. I understood the importance of perseverance and staying focused on the end goal. In life, it’s crucial to have clarity about what you want and to continue working tirelessly towards it, regardless of the obstacles encountered along the way. Despite the initial setbacks, I refused to let go of my vision, and this unwavering commitment propelled Mudi Africa forward.”


Mudi Africa’s presence looms large in the fashion world, a titan whose legacy began with the audacious placement of seven billboards across Lagos state. His reach now spans beyond Nigeria’s borders, with a firm establishment in countries like Senegal, Ghana, and South Africa. Intrigued by his expansive vision, we dared to pose the question: Could the allure of the Western world be next on his canvas of conquest?



“Absolutely! I passionately believe that fashion knows no boundaries; it’s a universal language that resonates across cultures. Good clothes speak volumes regardless of where you are in the world. That’s why understanding trends and cultural nuances is important when designing for emerging markets. While Mudi Africa’s roots are deeply planted in Africa, we recognize the immense potential of expanding our presence to other continents, such as North America and Europe.


“Our diaspora communities in these regions not only yearn for a connection to their African heritage but also contribute significantly to the global fashion landscape. However, expansion isn’t about setting up shop; it requires meticulous planning, strategic partnerships, and a solid infrastructure to withstand the pressures that accompany growth on an international scale. While immediate news of expansion may not be imminent in the next few years, rest assured that it’s a strategic vision that remains steadfast on our roadmap for the future of Mudi Africa.”


Before our interview commenced, we observed Enajemo’s seamless interaction with his team. With practiced ease, he sketched two designs, prompting an inquiry into whether it was a daily ritual for him. “How do you unearth inspiration, select fabrics, and breathe life into your designs?” we probed. Together, we embarked on a journey through the intricate process of garment design.



“Designing a garment is a multi-faceted process that begins with a spark of inspiration. For me, fabric selection is important, as each fabric carries its own unique story and texture. Exploring different fabrics and envisioning how they can complement the design concept is where the journey begins. Once the concept is solidified, the next step is translating it into sketches. While I am adept at illustrating, collaboration often comes into play, where I collaborate closely with skilled illustrators to bring the vision to life on paper.


“From there, the design undergoes a refinement process, where considerations such as fabric drapes, cutting costs, and overall feasibility come into play. It’s about striking a balance between creative expression and practicality, ensuring that the final garment not only captures the essence of the concept but also meets the demands of the market.


“Collaboration is key throughout this process, with each team member contributing their expertise. While I take pride in my ability to illustrate, I also actively mentor and coach my team to ensure that the vision remains cohesive and true to its original intent.”



Before our conversation delved into the intricacies of Mudi Africa’s strategies, TNR stumbled upon an intriguing tidbit online: his inclination towards advertising over the glitz and glamor of fashion shows. Intrigued by this departure from the norm, we probed further, eager to unravel the rationale behind his unconventional approach. Was a shift in strategy on the horizon?


“That’s correct. While it’s true that I do occasionally organize fashion shows in various countries like Ghana, Senegal, and Kenya, my primary focus has always been on advertising as a means of promoting the Mudi Africa brand. This approach is rooted in my belief that people buy clothes, not the shows themselves. Fashion shows undoubtedly serve as platforms for highlighting designs and generating buzz, but I’ve found that the most effective way to reach and engage with customers is through strategic advertising campaigns.


“Advertising allows us to highlight the versatility, quality, and unique features of our clothing lines in a controlled and targeted manner. It offers a broader reach and allows us to connect with potential customers who may not attend fashion events. Moreover, advertising provides a lasting impression, as campaigns can be seen repeatedly across various platforms, reinforcing brand recognition and loyalty over time.



“As for the future, while I remain open to adapting my strategies to evolving market trends and consumer preferences, my core philosophy remains unchanged. I believe that prioritizing advertising efforts will continue to be the most impactful way to communicate our brand message and drive sales. However, I’m always willing to explore new opportunities and avenues for promotion that align with our brand values and objectives.”


Mudi Africa’s collaborative ventures are as legendary as they are diverse. Past alliances have seen him join forces with luminaries from Nigeria’s vibrant Nollywood scene, among them the iconic RMD, as well as the charismatic Ramsey Nouah, among others. Yet, these partnerships merely scratch the surface of his illustrious collaborations.


Mid-conversation, Enajemo was asked: Considering your illustrious collaborations with stalwarts of the industry, do you envision extending your creative hand to embrace the vibrant energy of the younger generation? Is there a desire to nurture emerging talents and forge new paths alongside these rising stars?



“Yes, I’ve indeed had the privilege of collaborating with several prominent figures in the entertainment industry, including Ramsey Nouah, who brings a unique charisma to our projects. My goal is to create meaningful collaborations that elevate the Mudi Africa brand while staying true to our ethos of timeless elegance and sophistication.


“As for the question of whether I would like to work with younger talents, the answer is, unequivocally, yes. Banky W stands out as not just a talented musician, but a prominent influencer and entrepreneur. I passionately believe in nurturing and supporting younger creatives and providing them with a platform to contribute to the legacy of Mudi Africa. Whether it’s collaborating with younger stars in music, Nollywood, or fashion, I’m very willing to do that.”


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