Dashiki cloths in different styles [Photo Credit: Rodnae Productions/Pexels.com]

When it comes to colorful outfits and clothing, no continent beats Africa on that. Africa displays very beautiful colors and designs on their attires. This cuts across the continent, from the Sahara to South Africa and down to West Africa, everything is colorful.

Take a look at 8 beautiful traditional African attires.


Dashiki attire

This attire is popularly worn by the Ewe people of Ghana. They are usually unisex garments that cover the upper part of the body. The necks are always embroided to the chest part giving it a unique style. Dashikis come in different colors and design patterns.

The attire has gained popularity among many West African countries like Nigeria. It is also now worn by blacks in Europe and America.

2. Isidwaba(isikhakha)

Bride and Maid of Honour in Isidwaba attire photo credit: Klipculture

Isidwaba is a traditional Zulu skirt made of cowhide or goatskin. It is usually worn by married women. In the Zulu tradition, when a father is giving her daughter out for marriage, he gives her Isidwada made from hide of animals that belongs to him. This is a long time tradition passed on from generation to generation in South Africa. The Isidwada skirt is usually pleated and appears very gorgeous especially when worn with colorful beads.

3. African Kaftan

Kaftan for men

Kaftan is a long loose native dress that flows down the knees region. The female version is a lot freer and can be worn by pregnant women.

kaftan for ladies

Kaftan is worn in Algeria, Morocco, and other parts of East Africa. Senegalese Kaftan is worn mostly in West Africa.

4. Agbada


Agbada is a flowing wide-sleeved robe worn by men in much of West Africa and some parts of North Africa. It was originally worn by the Tuaregs, Yoruba HausaKanuriToubouSonghai, and other trans-Saharan and Sahelian trading groups who used the robe as a practical means of protection from both elements (the harsh sun of the day and sub-freezing temperatures at night) while traversing the Sahara desert.

It is usually decorated with intricate embroidery, and is worn on special religious or ceremonial occasions, such as the two Islamic Eid festivals, weddings, funerals or for attending the Church and  Mosque.

5. Ghanaian Smock

Ghanaian Smock

The Ghanaian Smock also known as fugu, or batakari, among other terms in Ghana, is generally made from hand-woven strips of fabric with wedge-shaped godets inserted below the chest to give it a flared shape. Originally from the Northern part of Ghana, they are also worn in other parts of West Africa. The Smock and Kente are proudly the National dress of Ghana.

6. Jelabiya

women’s Jelabiya
Jellabiya worn with ammama

The Jelabiya is originally an Egyptian attire worn in Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea and now most parts of Africa. It is slightly different from the Arabic thawb, as it has a wider cut, no collar (in some cases, no buttons) and longer, wider sleeves. Versions for farmers have very wide sleeves and sewn-in pockets used to carry tobacco, money, or other small items.

The attire is traditionally worn with an ammama (turban). White colored and lighter fabric is usually worn in summer. During winter, thicker fabrics that are grey, dark green, olive, blue, tan or striped are used, and colorful scarves are worn around the neck.

7. Aso Oke

Colorful Aso Oke

These beautiful and colorful fabrics are hand woven by the Yoruba people of Nigeria. It’s name Aso Oke means “top cloth” in English language.

In Nigeria, wearing Aso Oke signifies that you are wealthy as the fabric is usually very expensive. It can be used to sew tops, agbada, head gears popularly known as gele and other beautiful attires. Aso Oke is usually won on very special occasions like marriages, e.t.c.

A woman wearing a complete set of Aso Oke

A typical Yoruba woman’s Aso Oke consists of 4 main parts which are: Buba: Yoruba blouse, Iro: wrap skirt, Gele: head tie, Iborun or ipele: shawl or shoulder sash.

8. Kente

Kente worn by chiefs at an occasion

Kente is a traditional Ghanaian fabric specially hand woven with cotton. In Ghanaian mythology, it is believed that two hunters were inspired to weave Kente by a spider’s web. In the mythology, the two men went hunting and saw a beautifully woven spider web. The spider offered to show them how to weave like that in exchange for a favor.

The Kente fabric was originally reserved for Royalty or mostly worn for social and sacred functions.

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