Africa (Cultures and Costumes) by Charlotte Grieg, Robert Lee Humphrey

By Charlotte Grieg, Robert Lee Humphrey

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In 1810, a British ship’s doctor named William Dunlop noticed the unusually large shape of one Khoikhoin woman, whose Afrikaans name was Sara Baartman. He took her to London and exhibited her as a freak of nature and a scientific curiosity. She was made to perform tricks for the public, showing off her body. ” Later, Sara Baartman became an alcoholic and a prostitute and died when only 27 years old. Her sexual organs and brain were preserved and displayed in Paris until 1985. Recently, her remains were returned to the South African government in a gesture of apology for her cruel treatment at the hands of the colonial Europeans.

The sides of the garment are usually left open under the arms and sewn together near the bottom; sometimes, the robe is left open all the way down. The robe has different names in different countries; for example, it is called the gandoura or leppi in Cameroon, the agbada or riga in Nigeria, and the fugu in Ghana. Under the robe, the man wears a pair of loose, short trousers or Western-style clothing. A variety of headgear may be worn with the robe, ranging from turbans to skullcaps. Patterns and Designs West African markets sell three main types of cloth.

They have adopted a primarily Western way of life, but a few still follow the traditional pastoral ways of life. These South African tribesmen wear animal skin loincloths with the fur worn against the skin. Their shields and assegais (spears) are also made of animal skin. For hunting, leather sandals are worn. 53 Africa p50-59 CH05 19/09/02 16:10 Page 54 AFRICA This Zulu chief wears a leopard skin on his chest and animal fur around his wrists and knees, indicating his status. His headdress is made of otter skin and vulture feathers.

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