Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ghana 2017 - Day 13. Colorful fabrics

Just another day at the office, so for lack of something better to tell I will reflect of the dress styles I see around me.

Ghanaians are very dapper in their daily dress. The girls, in particular, take a lot of pride in their personal appearance and favor bold, solid colors on form-fitting dresses. Bright yellow, hot pink, or flaming red, lets you see them coming half a block away. The young men are more into the casual look, with jeans that are just right and colorful t-shirts. Nerds at the university are impeccably dressed with white collar shirts and neckties.

At the university or in downtown older men are very likely to wear suits, or patterned shirts with colorful African motifs. Older ladies prefer tailored business suites.

The real extravaganza comes when you visit the marketplace, or in small towns, where a good number of the women wear traditional outfits. As far as I can tell it includes an ample skirt with a bold pattern, a blouse that may be of the same pattern or simply coordinate with the skirt, and a good-for-all piece of cloth about three yards long. This convenient piece of fabric is used in many different ways. For example, mothers may use them to strap their babies to their backs, in such a way that the poor kid is tightly held in place so he cannot move and can only loll his head in peaceful slumber. Or maybe the baby will be slung forward for peaceful and private lactation. The fabric can also be used to carry stuff, from a few oranges to a sewing machine, again firmly secured against the back of the owner. If the object is too big to carry on her back, say a TV, our heroine will simply roll the fabric, put it on her head as a cushion, and elegantly balance her new TV on her head all the way home. This versatile piece of clothing can also be used as an umbrella or parasol, a jacket against the wind, or as a stylish hat wrapped around her head.

Speaking of head, having your hair braided into dozens of skinny braids is the rage. Of our four African-American students three had come from the United States with their hair braided (at an average cost of US$ 200 I am told). The fourth girl was smart and had her hair braided here, for the equivalent to US$ 10. She was feeling pretty smug. I think they are all planning to have their hair newly braided (plus all sorts of extra “hair” for volumizing purposes) before going back home.

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