Zedekiah Lukoye, the Kenyan fashion designer and CEO of California-based Blkkburd Genes, has rendered an apology to the management of the Lamu Riyadha Mosque after they registered their displeasure over his T-shirt design bearing an image of the scared and historic monument.
The management of the mosque had earlier issued a statement accusing him of committing a sacrilegious act after legendary rapper Jay-Z was recently spotted wearing the T-shirt in question during an outing in California, nation.africa reported. The mosque also referred to another Facebook post in February that reportedly showed another man wearing a Riyadha Mosque T-shirt while performing at a bar and expanded on why Jay-Z even wearing it isn’t something for them to brag about.
“We don’t consider this an honour, nor a privilege, for the historical mosque and its Founder Habib Swaleh for its imagery to be portrayed in such a way,” the statement read. “Bars and clubs are an affront to the spiritual respect and dignity of the mosque, its founder, to the congregation, and the general Muslim community within and outside Lamu.
“We therefore politely request you to show respect for the mosque by removing our Mosque’s portrait on the shirt, to show us that you really do respect the people of Lamu and the Mosque,” the statement added.
Following the rebuke, Lukoye, in a letter to the management of the mosque, issued an apology explaining that he had no knowledge showcasing the mosque on the T-shirts will be deemed as unholy.
“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,” he wrote, adding that he had also informed those who have the said shirts to respect the sanctity of the mosque as well as Muslims “by not wearing it in bars nor clubs if they happen to decide to wear it,” nation.africa reported.
Lukoye also explained the mosque wasn’t printed on the T-shirts to cause any controversy but was solely for educational purposes. “Since we only produced 20 T-shirts for some of our celebrity friends and family, we will not be reprinting this design,” he said.
Responding to the letter, the Secretary General of the Riyadha Mosque and Islamic Centre, Abubakar Badawy, said they had accepted his apology.
“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,” Badawy said.
Located on the historic island town of Lamu in Kenya, the Lamu Riyadha Mosque was constructed in 1892 and it is the oldest mosque in the East African nation, according to nation.africa. The sacred mosque was reportedly very instrumental in propagating the teachings of Islam across East and Central Africa. For its historical status, it was declared a national monument by the government of Kenya in 2018.