Africa is a vast continent in which live thousands of different tribes with different languages and cultures. Adapted to its diverse geographical factors, Africa presents its rich culture, custom and heritage through attires, dress and costumes worn by the people. The style of traditional clothes which differs from country to country, are sometimes similar in other countries. In this case, talking about traditional clothes in Africa is a very broad subject.
Nigeria is a country with different ethnic people well presented in its traditional dressing and culture. The Yoruba have their unique way of dressing and the Igbo also have their own attires. Materials used to create the styles or fashion is very important. For example lace, adire and ankara are some of the materials used to create attractive wears for both men and women. Men usually wear agbada, buba, fila and sokoto, while women put on buba, kaba, iborun and iro.
In West Africa, there are specific countries due to its religious influence, similar dressing and style is commonly seen. Boubou is sleeveless attire wore by men over long sleeve gowns or loose trousers. The female attires are usually sewn long and lose to cover every part of the body and mostly the men used the same fabric for trousers and upper wears. Apart from culture, which plays important role in ethnic wears, religion also determines clothes used.
There are special attires which name quickly brings attention to specific countries they originated. Kente is a famous traditional cloth manufactured in Ghana. It is a ceremonial hand – woven cloth, representing Ghana’s history, philosophy and ethics. It is the most widely used cloth during important social and religious occasions by kings, queens and chiefs. Originating from the Ashanti kingdom, the history of Kente dates back three hundred and seventy-five years ago.
The beauty of Africa in its diverse creativity of traditional wears is rapidly influencing the fashion world in advanced countries. Kente and other African clothes are bringing African-inspired clothing world into the commercial fashion spotlight overseas. Some celebrities including famous musicians’ wardrobes contain fashions combined with African clothes, lifting the image of the continent. Africa may be referred to as the Dark Continent in terms of colour but the ‘dark ‘is also that magic or secrete behind its rich culture, custom, heritage and tradition.
Photo credit Joel Savage: A Ghanaian lady in a traditional wear.