The African continent is indeed a tapestry rich in wisdom, culture and royalty, but sometimes, this strive do seem to be forgotten.
In Sierra Leone culture, the traditional wedding of the country is as unique as every tribe composed in Sierra Leone. Although the nation is multi-cultural, but there are some some shared similarities when it comes to traditional nuptial between individuals and families.
The traditional clothes of West Africa, Sierra Leone inclusive, are so colorful and bright and there is always a real culture of tailoring and people taking real pride in their distinguished appearance in a very different way to what they do in the Western world.
When it comes to exclusive traditional wedding dress in Sierra Leone, there is no particular dress style. Some couple might choose to go for the Kente style of Ghana, Aso Oke style of Nigeria, or other African fabric that perfectly suits their taste and balance.
Most recently, Sierra Leone couple tends to make a shift towards donning in African print wax. Interestingly, this material is found everywhere across Africa, especially in West Africa. They are industrially produced bright cotton cloths with batik-inspired printing. But, one major feature of these materials is the lack of difference in the color intensity on the either sides of the fabric. Nevertheless, the wax fabric can be sorted into different categories of quality with respect to the processes of production.
Wax prints can be described as a type of nonverbal communication among African women, and thereby carry their messages out into the world.
With the economic status of living in Sierra Leone, fancy fabrics seem to be mostly used for traditional wedding in the country. This is because fancy fabrics are generally cheap, being an industrialized imitation of the wax prints, they are also regarded as imiwax, Java print.
Usually, traditional wedding in Sierra Leone is characterized with an high sense of simplicity.
In most cases, the brides are seen in traditional garb, which is composed of blouse and skirt from usually brightly colored fabric, with head wraps than in Western wear. Except for corporate reasons, there is always an African flare of fashion at Sierra Leonean traditional occasions with an ambience of cultural display of African clothing made from beautifully colored and embroidered fabric, sometimes interwoven with strands of glimmering threads. For the Muslim faithfuls, many men tend to wear the Kaftan (pronounced Haftan) which is worn in a very similar way to the grandmuba. It is a full-dress, ankle-length, long-sleeve clothing which is also known as the ‘fataro,’ ‘jalabe,’ or ‘shabado’. However, a variation of this is the three-piece suit called ‘nyeti abdu’ which comes with trousers called a ‘chaya’ or the ‘waramba’.
This dress type for men is very embroidered in elaborate gold colored thread on the chest area and sometimes at the end of the sleeves and back area. This male attire is topped off with a skull cap, which is also usually embroidered in elaborate designs along the rim. Meanwhile, one of the most notable things about Sierra Leonean men’s fashion style is the color choice of the clothing.
Often than not, Sierra Leonean brides and grooms are always donned in an all white attire that commands simplicity and elegance. Nowadays, couples, especially the non Muslims are opting for more brighter colors, like red, blue, and cream. The groom rocks in grand boubou (agbada), while the bride gives herself some sense of adorable fashion statement, either in a gown or boubou and wrapper. Also, the brides are not too fascinated with using much jewelry at their big day.
Before such clothing can be worn, it is usually waxed and beaten with wooden mallets to create a stiff shiny cloth.