Volume1: 2009

Royal Legacy of Addis Ababa
By Jerry W. Bird

Ethiopia's Omo Valley
Muguette Goufrani

Perfectly, Privately Pemba
Manta Resort Profile

Journeys in North Africa 
Habeeb Salloum

East Africa Hotnews
Prof. Wolfgang Thome

Switzerland of Africa
By Muguette Goufrani

To Casablanca by Rail
Jerry W. Bird

Zulu Heritage
Daniel Dunn

Women in Tourism
Karen Hoffman

Ghana Grand Tour

Kenya Grand Tour

Luxury Vintage Rail Tour

ATA 34th Congress, Cairo

More Event Profiles


Editor's Blog

Africa Fashion
Muguette Goufrani

Food and Dining
By Habeeb Salloum

Book Reviews
Rick Antonson

Hotel Reviews
Karen Hoffman

Shopping Around
Muguette Goufrani

Air Highways Website
World Transportation

Shop for 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

Clebrate 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

Shop for Africa Travel Fashion!

Who would have thought when we launched Africa Travel Magazine 14 years ago, it would become such a popular resource for fashion. Try "Googling" for Africa Travel Fashions or many Africa topic sometime, and you'll notice our website at or near the top. Ditto for Yahoo and MSN. According to Webtrends statistics month after month, we get more hits for fashion than any other topic - which tells us what attracts a growing majority of our readers. The Editor and I wear African attire almost daily at home or away, and we pay close heed to the simple effective ways Africans make a distinct fashion statement. To create a lasting impression and stand out from the humdrum, everyday world, consider kanga and kikoi fabrics in dazzling, eye catching colors.

Kanga Who?

A kanga is a pure cotton, with a border wide enough to cover you comfortably. It often features a strong, central design or theme, such as fertility signs, mountains, landmarks, soccer stars or popular singers. Many African ladies wear a kanga over their skirts while working in the fi elds in order to control the dust. A kanga is a perfect family gift that is extremely popular throughout Africa thanks to its other option - multiple use as a matching or contrasting head wrap. You may see a Swahili proverb on some kanga that is derived from the words "guinea fowl." Why? Because the original kanga were brightly colored Portuguese handkerchiefs intended for gentlemen traders and offifi cials. Theseitems were then sewn together by Africans to create a piece large enough to be worn head to toe - and called kangas because their brightness reminded Africans of guinea fowl. As village folks say, "kanga nenda na urembo, shani urembo na shani"-"the kanga struts in style. The kanga cloth is a lightweight loose weave fabric, it's versatile and easy to care for.

What's a Kikoi?

The kikoi, woven from the fi nest cotton grown in the region, is a rectangle of pure cotton with a work of art inspired by the vibrant colors of East African Coast. The traditional way of wearing kikoi is simply wrapping it around the lower part of your body and tucking it in at the waist. Inspired by a multitude of colors and shapes, the kikoi are woven in thousands of different

Photos: Top - Zanzibar girls give our ATA delegates a rousing welcome to the Ecotourism Symposium. Above - Esterella of Cameroon. Left ATA delegates from USA wear colorful African garb at 31st World Congress in Accra, Ghana. colors with hand made tassels at the two widths and have become the must have accessories for the beach. In Zanzibar, designers use these two popular options in a variety of ways. For example, in the photo at the top of the page I took while attending an ATA symposium, they carried the theme right through to the sun umbrellas that complimented their attire; What a statement they made in their welcoming greeting - Jambo Zanzibar! These cloths may have originated with what Arabs traders wore during commerce along the East African Coast. Both varieties make a truly treasurable gift. Cameroon's celebrated designer Esterella makes effective use of the kikoi and kanga in her award winning fashions. We have had the pleasure of seeing on display on our two recent trips to that friendly West African country that's rich in resources and talented entrepreneurs such as Esterella/

What's Your Hat-itude?

I am fascinated, and often captivated by the designs, textiles and in particular, the head wear, hats, coiffure, turbans and wraps of indigenous peoples around the world. In many African societies, the choice of colors and fabrics is outstanding and has special significance to the wearer. Hats often tell stories of everyday life, with its struggles, spiced by uplifting periods of joie de vivre. While I have worked in various African countries and journeyed widely in my earlier career as a travel agent, my ten year involvement with Africa Travel Magazine has brought the importance of African fashion into sharp focus. Speaking of focus, our library of African fashion photos is unbelievable. It's grown so much, we're considering an issue dedicated solely to African fashions. How did this love affair start? Our very first Africa Travel Association Fashion Show was hosted by Chief Margaret Fabiyi, who has supplied many of my favorite wardrobe items. Her company is based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Instant Decision. Fashion will Rule!
At Mrs. Fabiyi's fashion affair in Arusha, Tanzania, we decided on the spot that fashion would play a leading role in our magazine. The exciting thing about this particular show, was the fact that our own delegates from the USA and Africa participated as models. That simple but effective format set the pattern for future ATA fashion shows at congresses and symposia in Ethiopia, South Africa, Cameroon, Guinea, Morocco, Zambia and Zanzibar. It will certainly play a starring role in our exciting ATA 30th World Jubilee, which starts in January 2005 and winds up in Angola next winter. The Jubilee highlight will be ATA's 30th Congress in Nairobi, Kenya. We were checking out the Kenyan fashions this spring when we toured the country. So since our first ATA fashion show, I challenged myself to wear African clothing and hats often, around home, at work and on regular shopping trips, as modern fashions for a modern day lifestyle.

While we live in Canada's Pacific coast, as far away from Africa as you can get, we are always having conversations about this wonderful continent, its people and places, simply because our hats are recognized by Africans who are working here or are attending university. As a confirmed adventurer , I enjoy a visible link to the Africans who work so hard to create these fabrics, hats and other wardrobe items. By supporting African designers and artisans, our publisher, Jerry Bird and I are contributing on behalf of the magazine, to the economy and cultural heritage of African societies . We are also demonstrating to all we meet in person, on our web sites and in person, that there is an expanding market opportunity for African clothing and fashions. Each hat or article Jerry and I wear promotes the country of origin. The most noticeable items that occupy our closet to the bursting point, are found in the collection of hats from different African countries. We wear each one with pride; what you might call a positive hat-itude!

Hats through the ages
Coiffure and fashion wear is an expression of individually and pride for African women. For many centuries Africans struggled to retain their unique traditions, languages and cultures. This was achieved despite wave after wave of outside influence and domination by Arabs and Europeans. One of the features that has remained virtually intact from generation to generation, was the African head wear. This crowning glory symbolizes strength as well as pride in one's self and one's city, village or country of birth. Attractive hats and tie-wraps are a portrayal of femininity and etiquette. Likewise, personal grooming and traditional hair styles of West African women mirrors their social status. African hats and head wraps are identified by their colorful fabrics and distinctive designs. We enjoy every opportunity to explore the cultural significance of African fashion.

Historically Speaking
Colorful African textiles became a sign of wealth during the period of the trains Saharan Trade when traders used strip cloth as a form of currency. As a result, African textiles and hats became known world wide, and their quality and color became an expression of wealth and knowledge in society and an indication of social hierarchy. The famous Kente cloth of the Ashanti in Ghana tells how the use of cloths and hats differentiates people by status, as hats symbolize leadership. Two of our most treasured hats where purchased direct from the Kente weaver's shop in Ghana.