Togo’s culture behold a society that hinges on thirty seven (37) ethnic groups with varying customs and traditions. This however reflects the diverse mix of African traditions.
Being a former French colony, the French influence is still prevalent in the country. Nevertheless, native tribal influences are still strong in Togo since the majority of the population follows traditional animist beliefs.
Togolese traditional wedding is one of the biggest events of the francophone country. This is the time that not only the couple, but everyone tends to display their sense of fashion with assorted gorgeousness. The commonly worn traditional dress for weddings in the country is the Kente fabric. Kente is the staple traditional wedding dress in Togo, whereby the bride and groom wear matching Kente for their big day.
Nowadays, the kente can be blended with other fabrics, like Ankara, lace, and brocade. However, Kente can be made as suits and gowns, making it known across the globe, hence, couple can make a cool combination with Kente during engagement or wedding.
Kente styles are indeed one of the most popular attires when African traditional wedding styles are being said. Aside for its uniqueness and styles for engagement and bright colors, Kente is widely the accepted traditional fabric for Togolese, especially the Ewes.
Interestingly, Kente is a unisex attire, as both men and women drape it in a different way. Men use it as an ancient Greek toga across one shoulder and around the body. Women wear a two-piece kente: one forms a wrap-around skirt (2 yards long and 45 inches wide piece of fabric) and another one is used as a shawl. A plain-colored or wooly blouse is worn to complete the attire for the bride.
The most important feature of a kente cloth is its pattern. There are more than 300 various patterns, and each and every one of them has its name and a unique deeply symbolic meaning.
1. Red–blood; strong political and spiritual feelings;
2. Pink–calmness, tenderness, and similar qualities;
3. Yellow–yolk of the egg; some fruits and veggies; holy and precious things;
4. Gold–wealth, royalty, etc.;
5. White–white of the egg; white clay used in some rituals; healing; purity;
6. Maroon–Earth; mother; healing and protection from evil;
7. Purple–Earth; healing;
8. Blue-sky; harmony, peace, good fortune, love;
9. Green–plants; growth and good health;
10. Yellow-moon; purity and serenity;
11. Gray– ashes; spiritual cleansing;
12. Black– aging; strong spiritual energy, the spirits of the ancestors.
However, brides are usually adorned with a tekua, a traditional, crown-like bridal hair-dress. Gold jewelry and colorful beading is also part of the bride’s accessories, which might differ depending on her family’s tribe.
Often times, the groom’s outfit can either come from a choice of piece of wrapper draped from one side of his neck or even choose to put on a brocade, agbada, or senator style for men, the choice is the relative. As for the bride, she can choose to make a skirt and blouse, long gown or any other style she likes with her Kente fabric. Also, a blend of lace or any other matching fabric can go well to create a unique style.
However, pagne is also a traditional wedding dress in Togo. A pagne is a certain cut (usually 2 by 6 yards) of wax cotton textile, common in francophone West and Central Africa. With much popularity across tropical Africa, the pagne cloth's usage and patterns may be used to convey by the wearer a number of social and economic messages. From the pagne, any number of garments may be created (the boubou, dresses, or western style suits) or it can be tailored as a wrap, head tie, and skirt.