It is 2019, women in African are still subjected to catcalls, shouting and ridicule when they supposed "underdress" and do not "coverup". Chief among the comments is that the women are dressing in an uncultured manner, it's apparently not African, the "decent" woman is expected to cover up the whole body.
How true is it that women in African culture have to dress from head to toe?
Historical artifacts and accounts narrate a different story to modern propagandists of African culture. In the uncolonized African societies, the African woman was not forced to cover up her natural beauty as seen in images or artworks from Kemet/Ancient Egypt civilization, the Nile Civilization, and even the recent Asante Kingdom.
These once-great civilizations were turned from their ways into satellites of the Muslim Arab world. What remains are accounts of how the people were forced into the ways of their colonizers.
In some societies, African women still wear their skin with pride without the constraints of colonial dress which was introduced to them by missionaries. Zulu women, for instance, still adorn their traditional dress on cultural ceremonies as an expression of an ancient culture that has stood the test of time.
On the other hand, historical commentaries have revealed how the age of Arabian and European invasion was to affect African dress. A number of accounts reveal how men from the alien groups came to sexualise the way African women and supposedly fell in "love" with the natural beauty of African women.
This resulted in many broken marriages and homes in the invaders’ society. Also, the naturally high fertility rate and melanin in Africa resulted in an increasingly mixed population over these groups.
This led to colonial authorities requiring African women to coverup their bodies in the name of trying to make them "decent" in the eyes of society. These colonizers to completely cover-up her natural beauty or any part of her body that is considered ‘attractive’.
As the missionaries began spreading their influence, African culture began to be demonized. They made the locals believe that tradition was devilish and turned Africans against their ways.
Can culture be considered as dynamic?
This cannot be considered as culture that evolved over time out of society's consensus. It comes out more as an act of servitude and a direct attack by colonizers on African tradition.
Unfortunately, after many years of living under such barbaric demand, the African has largely come to consider that as one of his culture.
Today, in many African societies, for an African woman to be considered as a ‘marriage material’, she must dress as if she is living in Antarctica!
Sadly, this literally means that we have now become the agents to promote the invaders’ barbaric act against our queens in our free societies.
The free African woman must be able to dress as she pleases! She must be able to dress to suit her sunny environment, and she must be able to dress to feel comfortable.
Africa needs need to sit down and have a conversation on what truly stands as our culture. This stems even from the way we respect our women and our families. In so many ways the attack on African culture has distorted history and turned the continent against its true culture.
Header Image Credits: KwaZulu Department of Arts