Behold one of the most representative and culturally important pieces in the West African culture: The Pagne.
The Pagne is a piece of cloth, most of the times quite colorful. Women wear it as a skirt, or you can take it to the tailor and get a pretty dress or a shirt for men out of it.
The pagne has multiple uses: it dresses the person wearing it, but it is also good to carry babies on mama’s back, to lay children to sleep on the floor, to carry hot pots from one stove to another without burning your fingers, for drying the sweat off your face, for a light cover while napping, among others.
It is also good to identify members of the same family or an ethnicity (different ethnicities wear different designs of pagne)
A lot of people wear clothes made out of religious pagnes for Sunday mass. Here is a picture of my three friends, showing off their Sunday shirts:
The local church actually has its own pagne design, which was the highlight of the anniversary celebration. They sold out in 3 hours! Everybody wanted one (or two or three):
Speaking of one, two or three, one will make a good skirt, tablecloth or baby carrier. Two are good for an outfit and three if you want to include a hat like this women did:
Men also like their pagne outfits:
Myself, I have one because the first year of university, there were 2 women from Angola in my class. They didn’t continue with our group, but before leaving, one of them presented me a pagne, as a symbol of a very important piece of her culture. Of course I didn’t know what to do with it and I have been using it mainly as beach blanket until now that the girls in the foyer have taught me how to wear it correctly and proudly… it has a full technique!
Sister Rosanna has one, but she never wears it, she carries it in her hand, which we all find a bit odd, but it also goes.
You can find all designs of pagnes at the local market, there are plenty to choose from!
I like pagnes a lot because they have many meanings and uses behind, but also because they fill West Africa with color and style.