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Kenyan designer apologises for Jay Z T-shirt image

The Kenyan designer who printed a T-shirt with an image of Lamu’s Riyadha Mosque has apologized.

The move follows uproar from the mosque’s management after American rapper and business mogul Jay Z was recently spotted wearing one of the designers T-shirts.

Zedekiah Lukoye, popularly known as Zeddie Loky, the chief executive officer of Blkkburd Genes, a firm based in Los Angeles, California that printed the T-shirt, said he was sorry for using the famous Riyadha Mosque portrait for the firms collection.

In the letter sent to Riyadha Mosque and Islamic Centre Secretary General Abubakar Badawy and privy to, the designer confessed that he was unaware, during research and design stage, that the portrayal of the mosque on their T-shirts would end up in sacrilegious joints.

Mr Loky goes ahead to appreciate the mosque management for bringing the matter to their attention.

“In this respect, we are willing to make this right with you. We will make sure to remove all the inappropriate portrayal of Riyadha Mosque Lamu on our T-shirts,” Mr Loky says in the letter.

He further explains that they had alerted their friends and family who received the T-shirt design to respect the dignity of the mosque, its founder-Habib Swaleh, and the general Muslim community “by not wearing it in bars nor clubs if they happen to decide to wear it.”

He says that their intention was in good faith and in line with the company’s mission of educating people around the world about history using various art designs.

“Since we only produced 20 T-shirts for some of our celebrity friends and family, we would not be reprinting this design,” he states.

Mr Loky promised to frame the entire collection and put it at the museum for exhibition, “to bring awareness of their work in order for them to continue appreciating what the company does.”

“We look forward to an amicable solution to this matter. Once more, we’re sincerely sorry for using Riyadha Mosque Lamu without your authorization,” says Mr Loky in the letter.

Riyadha Mosque and Islamic Centre Secretary General, Abubakar Badawy confirmed to have received the letter from the designer.

“We received the letter yesterday. The designer and the company have shown remorse and we don’t take that for granted. The apology has been accepted. We are looking forward to partnering with them to promote the good image of Lamu,” said Mr Badawy.

Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics (CICC) Chairman Mohamed Abdulkadir was said he was touched by the designer’s apology.

“This should be a lesson to other. Let them know that Lamu is guided by its own traditions and religious aspects. We should all respect that,” Mr Abdulkadir said.

The Lamu Riyadha Mosque is the oldest, having been built in 1892.

The Mosque is hailed as a landmark historical site because of its role in spreading Islam in East and Central Africa. In 2018, the government declared it a national monument under the National Museums and Heritage Act.