Top 10 Fabrics Made In Africa. (Part 1.)

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Africa is known for its bright, colorful fabrics. These fabrics hold many cultural significance and historical documents of African designs. There are many distinctive styles, techniques, dyeing methods, and decorative and functional purposes. We will be listing 5 types of fabrics* from Africa, let’s go!

  1. KIKOY.

This Multi purpose material known is as Kikoy or Kikoi from Kenya and Tanzania. It is handmade with cotton and worn by Men and Women. It is a versatile material which can be used as a Sarong,Wrapper,Head Wrap,Shirts,Skirts and much more.


Bogolan simply means made from mud in Bambara, the main language of the people in Mali. This fabric is 100% handmade, environmentally friendly and completely organic. It is traditionally dyed with fermented mud and dried plants and fruits like roots, leaves, tree barks and Wild Grapes. The Malian men start the process by weaving cotton thread on a loom and the women do the painting.


This is a hand loomed cloth woven by the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria. Aso-Oke means Top cloth in English. It is the traditional wear of the Yoruba men and women,the tribe of the Southwest people in Nigeria. It is used to make Men’s gowns called Agbada,Women’s wrapper called Iro and Men’s cap called Fila. There are three main types of Aso-Oke based on their Colors: Alaari- a rich Red type, Etu- a dark Blue type and Sanyan– Could be light brown or a little dark brown.


This is a printed dyed cotton fabric widely used as traditional South African clothing. It is manufactured in variety of colors and printing designs characterized by intricate geometric patterns. The name ‘ShweShwe’ is derived from the fabric’s association with Lesotho’s king Moshoeshoe 1,also spelled Moshweshwe. He was gifted with the fabric by French Missionaries in the 1840’s and subsequently polularised it. It is also known as Sejeremane in Sotho and Ujamani in Xhosa.


Adinkra means goodbye or farewell in the Twi language, the language of the Akan ethnic group of which Asante is part of. It is the tradition of the Akan people especially the Asante to wear clothes with Adinkra symbols on important occasions especially at funerals of family relations and friends. This is to signify their sorrow and to bid farewell to the deceased.

We will be discussing the remaining 5 in the next article, stay Tuned!

*African fabrics photos courtesy

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