Learning about African Clothing


Being a widespread country, Africa opens a gateway to unique dressing and clothing. So many communities dwell in this land that it leaves you spellbound with the flamboyance. In the Northeastern region of Africa especially Egypt, the dressing has been inspired by Middle Eastern cultures. You can find embroidered Jelabiyawhich which is also worn in the Gulf states.

On the contrary, people in the Northwest Africa are comparatively less influenced by anything western. Rather, they believe in maintaining their antiquity. In the Northwestern region, you will find people wearing the Djellaba which is similar to the Senegalese kaftan, the Grand boubou and the Dashiki. If you go to Nigeria, you will see women wearing head ties. It is in Sahelian Africa, there is more prominence for the dashikiSenegalese kaftan, and the grand boubou. In Mali, women wear Bògòlanfini.

Talking about the dashiki, it is not only very stylized but also appealing as a fashion statement. It has an ornate V-shaped collar which works like an added style in the dress. On the other hand, the grand boubou is simple but they have varied color designs. It is worn mostly by the Tuareg, who are otherwise known for wearing dyed indigo robes.

If you go to Eastern Africa, you will see kanzu. It is the traditional dress that is worn by the Swahili speaking men. On the flip side, women wear the gomesi and the kanga. Southern Africa is no less, men wear distinctive shirts like the long dresses.

South Africa is quite popular for the Madiba shirt and Zimbabwe is identified by the safari shirt. In the Northeastern or the Horn of Africa, clothing varies. People in Ethiopia wear the Ethiopian suit (men) and the habesha kemis (women). Go to Somalia and you will see men wearing the khamis with a small cap called as a koofiyad.

There is also a practice of selling used clothing in Africa. The selling of “White man’s clothes’ is surrounded by a lot of criticism and controversy. The used cloth is called Mitumba and quite a threat to the local clothing manufacturers. But many people believe that those who are avoiding expensive and low quality products find some relief in Mitumba.

Anyway, South Africa still scores high points for being vibrant and diverse in all forms.