Bring in the Boubous!

18.09.2010 - 28.09.2010


Open The Gate –
The Black Culture Cafe
33-35 Stoke Newington Road
Dalston, London N16 8BJ


Bring in the Boubous

Boubou/Bubu is one of the names for the flowing wide sleeved robe worn by men in most West African countries and - to a lesser extent - in North Africa.

Depending on the ethnic group wearing them, this gown is called Agbada (Yoruba, Dagomba), Babban Riga (Hausa) and K’sa (Tuareg). The female version worn in some communities is also known as a M’boubou or Kaftan.

Its origin lies with the clothing worn by the Islamized Tukulor, Mande and Songhai peoples of the historic 8th Century Takrur and Ghana and 13th Century Mali and Songhai Empires, who had in turn adopted the clothing of the nobility of the early Islamic Empire via the Tuareg people.

Developed, worn and refined over hundreds of years, the Boubou, which was traditionally made from handwoven and embroidered cotton fabrics, is still by far the most practical, elegant and durable gown for the climatic and living conditions of the West African Sahel regions. Collarless, comfortable and airy it nevertheless protects the entire body from biting insects and the scorching sun while the graceful fall of its ample width adds status and dignity to its wearer.

In a world of climate changte, these exclusive, easy slipover gowns for men and women from the AfriqueAuthentique-AuthenticAfrica ‘L’Esprit de Burkina’ fabric collection are an ideal alternative to European-style leisure- and homewear. They are made from one hundred percent indigenous African cotton, handwoven in small ateliers in Burkina Faso and designed and tailored by the production team of the Center for the Formation of Women (CFFA) in Quagadougou.

The superb fashion photos are by British photographer Joseph Hunwick and were taken in a daylight studio during a training workshop with local African photographers in Ouagadougou.

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