Saturday, October 7, 2006

The shorts man, the shorts!

Myspace Mood: Toasty

So last time I promised a blog on African dress... I have been trying to get good pictures to show, but pictures aren't welcomed most places and since I didn't bring any long lenses I can't grab them discretely. So, sorry about that!

There are two distinct kinds of dress here in West Africa. The traditional dress is big, flowy, brightly colored, loose fitting dresses (you wouldn't be blamed for drawing a parallel between what I'm describing and a moo moo, haha). The guys have printed fabric that is embroidered around the neck and then pants made out of the same fabric. (Some guys wear long robes, but most of them are Muslim - I don't think it's a traditional African garment).

The second kind of dress here is... well, what you wore five years ago. No... I don't mean the style, I mean the same clothes. Goodwill sends container after container over of clothes they can't sell second-hand in the States. Florida seems to be a popular place to get containers from, I assume since the clothes are thin. The clothes are cheap, three bucks for a pair of pants, compared to buying new clothes here ($7 for a traditional shirt, $5 for a dress, or $30 for a new pair of jeans). So, most West Africans, most of the time, are wearing stuff from your closet, lol. I even saw a T-shirt from the NCCAA Tennis Tournament that Spring Arbor played in, though from two years before we were in it.

I'm not sure how much of it has to do with it being American vs. being cheap, but these clothes are worn much more than traditional African ones. I have mixed feelings on the subject, because while it's really nice that our old clothes can be put to good use, and also that a county who is already poor can save some money vs. making new clothes by buying our used (saving some money which can be used for rice), it's also a little sad that our left overs are kind of taking away a little authentic African culture. For social events and celebrations though, traditional is still the name of the game, so I guess at least where it counts they're still holding on to their stuff.

The other odd thing (which I find extremely annoying) is that the Western sense that all respectable people wear pants has found its way here. So, in a climate with 90% humidity on 95 degree days, I am wearing pants to teach class, go to the market, etc. Arg! There is no where in the whole world that should be more sold on the idea of a good pair of khaki shorts than here! What can you do... :)

That's it for this edition. For those who were keeping track, I cut my hair this week. :)

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