Africana scrubs

It was only a matter of time before the health workers fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone said “Enough with the green scrubs, bring on the Africana”. From Kenema to Kailahun, the trend seems to be catching on and not a moment too soon. Along with its obvious fashion kudos, the splash of bold print adds light and colour to what can often be a difficult environment.

TambaMSF worker Tamba is excited about his new scrubs,  “I love my scrubs, the design is African”. He also has a lot to say about role as a health promotion officer “I didn’t know anything about Ebola before this outbreak. I used to be afraid of Ebola and I even refused to come to this hospital. But now I know more than anyone about Ebola, ask me anything and I can tell you. We teach the patients about the disease, I love my job”.

Mattu_low_resMattu is another health promotion officer at the MSF Ebola hospital in Kailahun sporting the same subtly designed Africana print scrubs. “The health promoters wanted to look different from the nurses, so we got these scrubs made, I think we look  better and when people see us they know we are on the health promotion team.”

Virpi_low_resJust when you thought no health worker could look smarter than an MSF health promotion officer from Kailahun, the good people at the newly opened Red Cross Ebola Hospital in Kenema came up trumps with this bold Africana print. Finnish nurse Virpi is happy with her new set “I love the print choice, it cheers me up when things are hard, but the damn bleach is playing havoc with the print.”

Marsh_low_resAustralian Nurse Marsh resists the matchy matchy set and goes for a blue colour blocked bottom and the standard Africana print top. “The print was a combined decision between all of us , there were so many choices but I think we went with a great colour”. Will he be wearing them when he goes back to Australia? “I did buy some fabric so I might get a fresh pair made”.

Morphsuits on the frontline

Mr David Fufana, is a ‘fumigation officer’ at Connaught Hospital in Freetown. His role is vital during the current Ebola outbreak, while he doesn’t technically fumigate, he does spray surface areas where there have been Ebola positive patients with harsh chemicals to kill any trace of the disease.

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Mr Fufuna’s role does not require full PPE but it does mean he has to be careful when entering medium-low risk Ebola zones, and protect himself accordingly. Enter THE MORPHSUIT.  The incredible thing about this snazzy flouro body stocking is that Mr Fufuna didn’t order it online from morphsuits.com, instead he was lucky enough to stumble upon it at the Congo ‘junks’ Market in Freetown. “I saw that suit in the pile and thought I would make good use of it in my job, I put it on, it keeps me safe and I feel like a superhero”.  Whether it does keep him safe is doubtful, I was also concerned about Mr Fufuna’s footwear, a pair of rubber boots is probably a more sensible option than velcro sandals.

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Mr Fufuna said he has never actually done his job while the suit has been completely zipped up, but it’s good to know the option is there.

Juliana the brave

This is Juliana (19), an Ebola survivor from Heigbema village outside of Kenema, a district of Sierra Leone that has been ravaged by the outbreak. Juliana caught the virus from her mother, who she had shared a bed with, and then passed it onto her 7-month-old son Alieu who tragically died inside the isolation ward. When I spoke to Juliana two weeks ago she was awaiting the release of her husband from the treatment unit. “My husband is inside, he is improving, I hope he comes out soon”.

Juliana was obviously exhausted by the ordeal she had just suffered, but was also strong, and to me carried the beautiful glow of someone who was ready to start again. I commented on how bright she looked and complimented her on her embroidered skirt and top (there’s never an inappropriate moment for a conversation about fashion). They belonged to her mother and are two of the few items of clothing she now owns.

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Ebola survivors are usually forced to burn their belongings when they return to their homes by family members who are scared of infection. Juliana said she has very few clothes remaining in her cupboard as most have been destroyed.

At the time of writing this I spoke to Juliana’s brother Alhassan (another survivor) he shared the crushing news that Juliana’s husband John had passed away two days earlier. Juliana assured me when we met “Our family is strong,”.

A video of Alhassan’s story shot by Mike Duff when we were in Kenema two weeks ago appears on the Guardian site and can be found here. It  further highlights the courage of this family and the growing number of Ebola survivors.

Handsome scrubs

Can you check my pulse Hassan, I think my heart might be racing! I met this fine looking nurse at the Ebola Treatment Centre at Kenema Hospital. He is one of the many Sierra Leonean staff working tirelessly in the triage area. When patients enter the hospital grounds,  their symptoms are assessed and then if required are moved to the Ebola unit and tested for the disease.

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Hassan’s role is frontline and while on the job he usually wears a PPE (personal protection equipment) suit over the top of his scrubs, a face mask and another pair of gloves. It’s not easy operating in the tropics under all those synthetic fibers, can you imagine how sweaty it gets?

Hassan_low_res…..and that’s why in between shifts Hassan changes into a cool cotton Mende two piece. The gumboots stay and so does the visor. You are a courageous man Hassan, your job is vital and Fashpack salutes you!

Shekur stays stylish

I’m not going to lie, things are unsettling in Freetown now as the fashionable people of this fine city confront the Ebola outbreak. While life goes on, we are reminded everyday of Evil B*tch Ebola through posters on the street (see example below), loud speakers screaming crackly Ebola messages, the stink of chlorine and so many tragic stories.  One thing that hasn’t changed though is this town’s commitment to sharp style.

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Some-time baldy – Shekur, who is often hanging around his turf outside Connaught Hospital, refuses to let Evil B*tch Ebola get in the way of his sexy fashion choices. Everything Shekur is wearing was purchased from a special boutique downtown which he (understandably) will not disclose. Shekur always wears a tight pant well, this white example with a new season printed poly top is no exception.

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Another winning look –  Shek colour blocks the sh*t out of this outfit in those famous Fashpack hues. And what about the slippers? Black velvet with an Asian embroidery. Irresistible.

Abdul likes the flag but hates Tony Abbott

No prizes for guessing why Abdul caught my eye. For a minute I felt like I was inCronulla Sydney, heartland of Australian flag fashions. Freetown is approximately 18,000km away from Australia (and Cronulla) so it’s not often you spot an over-sized pair of board shorts fashioned from that Union Jack/Southern Cross combo.

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I asked Abdul if he knew what country the flag represented and naturally he answered Britain. Correct answer Abdul. After I explained some history and rehashed the details of John Pilger’s Utopia he commented, “Oh I know that country very well, my son is there, I haven’t seen him for more than eight years, he went there just after the war “. A familiar story in Sierra Leone. “I want to visit him but it’s very hard to get into that country. That guy? what is that guy’s name? the President? I heard about him the other day on the radio, he is not a fine man. He is making these people suffer, these people that go to Australia in those boats”. Word is spreading.

Ramadan accessories

Yep, it’s that time of year again, the holy month observed by millions around the world – Ramadan. For those partaking, the next few weeks are in many ways a fun free zone (daily fasting, early morning prayers, steering clear of your boyfriend/girlfriend, staying off the sauce and fags), but that doesn’t mean the fashions have to suffer as well.

While half of Freetown is fasting, the city is certainly not starved of style.  Check out government worker Alimamie who will be exercising constraint, discipline and general holiness this month but is also determined to keep his wardrobe up beat. The key to his great outfits are his red hat and matching beads.

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“I’m from the Loko tribe, these beads are part of my culture. The hat I wear to the mosque. We are peaceful people and we are known for our style, “says Alimamie.

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A different two-piece but same beads and hat, these accessories are a go-anywhere choice.”Loko men are also very nice to women, women like Loko men,” he adds. Call me after Ramadan Alimamie.

Okada drivers get behind the red team while wearing crazy hats

I promise, this red obsession will end soon. But not before we take a look at the superb theatrics of these outfits worn by two of Freetown’s favourite Okada drivers.


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So much to get excited about with Abdul’s Sargent Pepper’s themed look. The red coat with the policeman’s hat from Kent Police station (on the Freetown peninsula) complimented by white square-toed shoes and pants  give it all a polished finish. You’ll never be a lonely heart in this outfit Abdul, girls go nuts for a man in uniform. 


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Mohammed lets us know he’s on the red team with his Ray Ban sunglasses, but clearly the star of this outfit is the hat. He had no idea where it came from but my guess is that an insecure 15 year old from the mid west of America made a charity store donation after quitting the marching band when realising it was not going to get him a girlfriend. Such a young and foolish mistake. I bet Mohammed is getting loads of chick action in this hat.

The definitive election victory fashion shot

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Sure, a pair of denim shorts worn sans a shirt with some gold bling and a black and white cap is always going to look great but this is certainly not the most remarkable outfit we’ve seen this election season in Sierra Leone. What makes this outfit special is that it was worn while history was being made. Moments before the photo was taken, it was confirmed by the National Election Commission of Sierra Leone that Ernie B had made it to his second term. Thanks Alusine Kamara for taking the time to strike your victory pose while the streets erupted into complete and utter  mayhem around you. And big ups to Mama Salone for holding peaceful and fair elections.

The new ‘It’ dress has arrived

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Like the Roland Mouret ‘Galaxy’, the Herve Leger ‘Bandage’ and the Vivienne Westwood ‘Carrie’, I think we’ve found a new ‘It’ dress right here in Freetown. Let’s just call it the Kadija ‘Explosion’. This little number has all the elements of a frock that I like:

  • Colourful africana print – tick,
  • Frilled sleeves and panels – tick,
  • Elegant tailoring- tick,
  • Can easily move from day to night – tick,
  • 100% natural fibre – tick.

Thank you Kadija, and thank you ‘Explosion’. No doubt we’ll be seeing more of you soon.