You can rightly call Africa the home of colours, but when we speak of colours, let’s shift the attention from the skin and appearance of the people to the culture, the food, the clothes, and the art and accessories. One of the most unique things about the African people is their colourful fabrics. Shopping for fabrics, the first thing that greets you in an African fabric shop is the burst of alluring colours, patterns, and prints; you almost don’t know what to choose. The prints are to live for.
Although technology has made mass production of fabrics easier, some of the fabrics and designs are hand-made, drawn, and created from scratch. It is only logical; they give off a captivating effect. What more? They are art. These prints and fabrics are not just random pieces of clothing; they are a part of the identity and the story of the culture of the people. All African fabrics might look the same, but there are motifs that are usually unique to the specific tribes. Let’s look at some of the African fabrics and where they can be found.
Shweshwe is the fabric of South Africa, with prints made with indigo dye and printed with geometric designs. You most likely will not see a shweshwe with large flowery designs. The fabric is made from cotton and has unique features like feel, taste, and textures that differentiate it from other African fabrics. Over time, the Shweshwe made its way to Botswana, where it is known as Leteisi. Originally, the shweshwe fabric colour was blue, but it is now being made in different lovely colours.
Kente, invented centuries ago, is the woven fabric of the Ghanaians in west Africa. The spectacular feature of the kente fabric is the geometric strip designs and the colour fusion. Kente is the fabric of royalty, and it is one of the most popular fabrics in Africa.
Adire is a Yoruba word that means to tie and dye, and it is made by the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. The art of tie and dye in Nigeria dates back centuries, and the producers used this technique of pattern creation to explore lovely and amazing designs. Abeokuta, Ibadan, and Osogbo are the homes of these fabrics in Nigeria. Stay up to date on the newest in the world of Fashion, Arts, Beauty and Lifestyle; Follow FAB on Instagram.
Bark clothes were produced by the ancient Buganda tribe of Uganda. These fabrics were made from the bark of the Matuba tree. The bark of the tree is gathered during the wet season and taken through a long process of beating, dying, and refining into a wearable fabric. This is quite unique and different from other African fabrics.
The kikoi is the traditional fabric of the East African nations of Kenya, Zanzibar, and Tanzania. The designs are quite specific, hand woven in stripe patterns, and made with cotton. What is a visit to Africa without getting a piece made from this fabric?
When you next travel to any of these African countries, do not fail to get a souvenir. Anyone would look absolutely fab in these African prints.