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Used clothing from the West is a big seller in East Africa. Uganda's leader wants a ban
The Owino Market in Uganda's capital has long been a go-to enclave for rich and poor people alike looking for affordable but quality-made used clothes, underscoring perceptions that Western fashion is superior to what is made at home
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Jostling for space, people jam the crowded footpaths crisscrossing a massive open market in Uganda's capital. They are mostly looking for secondhand clothing, sifting through underwear for pairs that seem new or trying on shoes despite getting pushed around in the crush.
Downtown Kampala’s Owino Market has long been a go-to enclave for rich and poor people alike looking for affordable but quality-made used clothes, underscoring perceptions that Western fashion is superior to what is made at home.
These clothes have been discarded by Europeans and Americans, then shipped to African countries by middlemen. It's a multimillion-dollar business, with some two-thirds of people in seven countries in East Africa having “purchased at least a portion of their clothes from the secondhand clothing market,” according to a 2017 U.S. Agency for International Development study, the most recent with such details.
Despite the popularity, secondhand clothes are facing increasing pushback. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a semi-authoritarian leader who has held power since 1986, declared in August that he was banning imports of used clothing, saying the items are coming “from dead people.”