Muguette's Profile

Africa Travel Fashion is sweeping the world!
Guess who's sweeping the web?

by Muguette Goufrani

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 (above left).

Folding Instructions to come.