As we mark Africa Day, let the continent known for its beautiful heritage inspire your wardrobe.
The African continent is credited with civilisation, culture and many other beautiful things.
Formerly known as African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day), the annual event is in commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity which took place on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The day is celebrated in various countries on the African continent, as well as around the world.
As Africans celebrate Africa Day, one item that sticks out on the day set aside to celebrate African excellence, independence, achievements and struggle is our clothing.
Even before the advent of Europeans, Africans already had their form of fashion and made sure this never got lost.
In honour of this beautiful day, here are some native outfits that are associated with certain African countries.
- Kente from Ghana
Kente is one of the most popular and famous clothing associated with the name Ghana. The woven fabric represents the Ghanaian people irrespective of their tribe. Most Ghanaian women love to dress up in Kaba and Slit made from Kente matching it with beautiful head wraps and heels. The Men, on the other hand, wrap the cloth over their shoulders with traditional wooden sandals known as Ahenema.
- Agbada and Iro and Buba from Nigeria
Nigeria is blessed with more than 500 ethnic groups but Nigerians are known for their Agbada for the men and the Iro and Buba for the women (Blouse and wrap). The Agbada is a loose overall with a trouser that is worn with a hat and half shoes. Also known as “Anago” the Iro and Buba is a blouse and wrapper combination that is worn by Nigerian women, especially mothers and older women. The Gele, a type of elegant head wrap is also worn with colourful glass and clay beads.
Agbada and Iro and Buba from Nigeria
- Izicolo from South Africa
Izicolo is one of the most prominent adornments in Zulu traditional dressing. It is a circular-shaped hat worn by married women. These hats were traditionally made of grass and cotton and measured as much as a metre across to protect the wearer from the sun.
- Gomesi from Uganda
In Uganda, Gomesi is a typical traditional costume of the Ganda people living in the central part. Known as a costume mainly worn by women, it features square shoulder sleeves as shown in the photo and a silhouette with a long hem dress wrapped in a large obi. It is mainly worn at weddings and ceremonies called Kwanjula, where women introduce their marriage partners to their parents.
Masaiare from Kenya
Masaiare dress is popularly worn by the Masai people from Kenya. The attire which consists of usually red kanga and a lot of bright decorations: necklaces, bracelets, and bead headdresses is considered o be the national attire of Kenya.
- Nguba from Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe just like other African countries, clothing plays a major role in the lives of the people. Different outfits define the status, economic background, age and even education of the person wearing it. Married women, for instance, wear a blanket known as Nguba and a lot of thickly beaded hoops of twisted grass called Isigolwani whiles men in general wear breastplates made from animal skin. The type of ornaments worn may decide the age of the person wearing them.
- Habesha Kemis from Ethiopia
Ethiopia, the nation where the African Union is headquartered is also another country that puts clothing and fashion at the forefront. Ethiopian women wear an ankle-length dress known as the Habesha Kemis. The Habesha Kemis is made of chiffon and comes in white, grey or beige shades. A shawl known as the netela is wrapped around the dress. The men wear a long-sleeve, knee-length shirt, and matching pants generally referred to as Ethiopian suits.