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The colours that identify the African

History is witness of the times, the torch of truth, the life of memory, the teacher of life and the messenger of antiquity ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC).

Thoughts that spring up when African history is mentioned, unfortunately are not that which leaves a merry nostalgia. Emotions quickly flow to the clanging of thick chains of slavery, the scream of pain following the splatter of scarlet across the hungry sod which sucks it dry thus inadvertently arousing disdain for my dear Africa. Many have thus despised their roots and overlooked the essence of this continent which actually is rich by all standards.

So then, I looked down from the windows of my room at the corner of this old green storey building. My icy cold room that barely meet me except as late as when I’m 10minutes from midnight; rushing through my mundane night routine to catch some rest towards the already scheduled day I call tomorrow.

The urbanized commune which depicts the opposite of what my grandmother had described to me got me amused as I admired the new Africa. I smiled and played in my mind the interesting transformation right from our oral traditions to the mere appearance of a person, myself counted. Then, that little small voice echoed in my head, “You should immediately grasp as much as you can from the past and lock it away safe for posterity”.

This led me to pick the grossly overlooked part of culture which happens to be Africa’s costume. Who cares about fashion anyway? But as trivial as it seems, it remains one of the easiest identification item of a particular denizen.

Costume is the distinctive style of dress of a particular people, class, or period. A costume can be a particular style of clothing worn to portray the wearer as a character or type of character other than their regular persona at a social event.
Fashion so much affects all strata of society that even the lifeless remains of man would definitely want to bid the living farewell in well tailored costume on their journey to the next destination.

Africa has countless ethnic groups with their own unique style hence noted for varied and colourful costumes. Considering the fact that Cameroon has over 206 ethnic groups, you can be sure to have many costumes credited to just a country. Due to the ethnic diversity and migration, some costumes may be shared by countries especially, those that share borders.

While some countries have shared costumes, there are yet some uncommon ones you may never have come across. There are very conservative ones like the ‘Ntama’ of Ghana’s Ashanti traditional clothing to westernized options like the 3-pointed headgear of the Namibians.

Inspired by the creative blend of weaved yarns, beads, copper rings, piercings and so on, I finally thought it would not only be fun to share some creative traditional costumes, but preserve something for posterity. So let us begin with:

South Africa’s traditional costume for the Zulu’s

South Africa - Traditional wear


kenya traditional fashion


Cameroon traditional dress



mauritani- traditional fashion


Ghana traditional dress




Ethiopian Traditional dress


Nigerian Traditional dress

These are but a few of the traditional attires that colours the African continent. Hope you love them… Enjoy.

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