The Africa Travel and Nature Library

Shop Clothing, Textiles and Wearable Art

by Muguette Goufrani

Quick now! How well does Africa Travel Magazine's web site score in the exciting, ever-changing world of fashion? The answers are astounding! In a recent search using the words Africa Fashion, our web site ranked#1 out of 2,800,000 entries on Yahoo, and was #1 on Google from 1,650,000 entries. Since Africa Travel Magazine's debut in 1995, African fashion has been a feature item on the editorial menu. It started at an event in Benin, West Africa, with our editor's keen observation and rapt attention to the wide range of colorful wear of our African and African American delegates were wearing.

The wind- up gala evenings, held twice each year, were a kaleidoscope of color. What a splash! In this issue , we feature something very dear to my heart, so let's start at the top ... "le Chapeau Africain." Since hats, bonnets, turbans, wraps and unique coiffure are such a key part of Africa's fashion scene, I am pleased to present my first articles on this delightful, universal topic featuring the designs of Alphadi, Esterella, Chrystalix, Abdela , Oumou Sy, Gigi and others we have profiled on our ATA web site. An expanded version will follow in Africa Travel Magazine's 30th Jubilee editions, lighting the spark for a Jubilee Fashion Spectacular at Travel Shows in Africa, the USA and Canada. Visit the Africa Travel Magazine web site for updates to our editorial calendar, and news from the ATA chapter level to international travel expos attended by thousands of tourism professionals, vacationers and travelers, who need to meet and get to know Africans in Tourism.

Mali Headdress

Guinea hair styles

Cameroon turban

celebrate Africa

Guinea festive wear

Wearable art, unique headwear and clothing styles that reflect every corner of this vast continent of Africa, are available in thousands of markets, souks and boutiques across the country, including the giant "Merkato" in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Contemporary fashions are showcased at events, such as ATA Fashion Parades which takes place at most Congresses Togo, West Africa, is truly a shoppers' paradise. Lome's central market, where we bargained for many of my favorite keepsakes and wardrobe items, rates as one of the five best shopping sites in Africa. At Maison Royale, my friends and I were dazzled by an elegant gold Mercedes- Benz, parked at the entrance, gleaming in the mid-day sun. A symbol of wealth and success in North America, these upscale autos are commonplace in Lome, many being owned by "Nana Benz" - women traders, so named because they all appear to be Mercedes Benz owners. Most taxicabs are owned by this enterprising group.

World's Largest Fetish Market: While in Togo, we spent a full day at Akodessewas, the world's largest fetish market, with its array of sorcerers' potions; roots, bark, monkey skulls, wart hog teeth, porcupine skins, leopard hides, antelope horns, bones of crocodiles, horses, pigs and monkeys, plus various parts of human anatomy. Such concoctions are used to cure everything from diarrhea and the flu, to cuts, impotence and rheumatism. I tried on a gris gris (necklace), which is said to work its magic when blessed by a fetish priest. Part doctor, part psychic, the priest relies on herbal medicines, charms and a healthy dose of positive thinking. They believe that the spirits are everywhere -- in the air, the trees, the water - even buildings. A priest calls on his favorite god to predict future events, and keep evil forces at bay. He sits on a stool in his colorful robe, holding a regal staff, receiving gifts of gin, which he sips as a troupe performs ritual chanting and dancing. A sacrificial offering is made as a show of loyalty and respect to the spirits, and to gain special favors, such as the birth of twins. Continued

What is Kente Cloth?
Basically, it's an Asante ceremonial cloth that is hand-woven on a horizontal treadle loom. The looms we saw at the village near Kumasi were out in the open air, although in a grassy, shaded area. Cloth strips, approximately 4 inches wide are sewn together into larger bolts. Of many colors, sizes and designs, Kente cloth items, long scarfs in particular, are worn throughout Ghana and its neighboring countries, during most social and religious occasions. The name comes from the word 'kenten', which means basket. We saw virtually every possible color and pattern of kente cloth during the day-long Durbar ceremony at Koforidua village near Accra. According to Ghanaians, kente depicts the area's history and philosophy, its ethics, oral literature, moral values, social and religious concepts.