Rwanda people are trying to restore the tradition of upholding the cultural repute of their country by wearing what is described as the national garment of the country, mushanana, by adorning themselves with the elegant attire at their traditional weddings. This attire is a little bit similar to a very simply draped Indian sari. But it is historically worn in Africa, and is a large part of Rwandan culture. Today, the mushanana is gaining prominence among young women of Rwanda. Realistically, wearing traditional costume often shows a sense of loyalty and pride in one's cultural values, and this is evident in the East African country. Today Rwandan women, young and old, are fully embracing the country’s traditional dress code.
The Rwanda’s traditional women attire is made of light and heavy silk which can be very soft, as it comes in bold prints and sometimes just plain cloth.
Nonetheless, the fabric used for the mushanana comes in different colors and textures.
“The advantage of mushanana is that it works very well in symbolizing one of the Rwanda’s cultural values. Our culture is made up of various aspects: the way we dress, the way we eat, and even how we talk. Therefore, the mushanana goes a long way in showcasing our Rwandan culture in the world”, says one of the Rwandan women.
Traditionally, all the women mainly wore this dress, but the times changed. The mushanana is now mostly found in formal occasions. Though, younger women today are embracing it more.
“The mushanana is an important outfit because it represents a culture of my country, and I like it personally because when you wear a mushanana, you look respectful, more beautiful. That’s why I like it”, said another Rwandan young woman.
How is mushanana worn?
After a woman wears a vest (or a tank top), she ties the skirt of mushanana around her hips. This should be tied in a more decent way, because sometimes, people make a mistake when this is tied badly. It can stop you from walking and also, it might disturb the poise of walking. After tying the bottom part, you have to put on the upper part of the outfit, the sash draped over one shoulder. It might not be tied together, as it can be folded and adorned with jewelry.
The attire can also blend the traditional look with beautiful earrings or pearls and a beaded necklace which contains some of the colors that are in the mushanana, or perhaps the color of the bustier.
However, there is a need to avoid different colored accessories, for instance red earrings, a pink beaded necklace and possibly blue bangles, just because those colors are in the mushanana.
Generally, Rwandan men wear their umushanana with a white shirt tucked into a wrapped floor-length skirt. This however, do go with wearing a black-and-white beaded necklace and a beaded walking stick.
Brides in their sense can be in gorgeous white lace Mushanana attire with a choker and head band. Rwandan groom also look fabulous in black and white Mushanana monochrome attire with a match of black and white beads and animal fur walking stick.