I recently went out on Etsy and purchased some African traditional attire for my 2 year old son and I. It is one thing to believe in Pan-African values, but it is another to actually make it a daily part of your life, or rather integrate it into your life to the point that Western culture has very little effect on you. By dressing in African attire, it serves as a conscious reminder that we are Africans with a culture and heritage living in the Diaspora, to ourselves and those we encounter.
Just as we may acknowledge an Indian in a kurta, or a Tibetan Buddhist with prayer beads, we can be proud in the fact we have a heritage and culture as well. When I am wearing a crown, or a Kente print dress, I feel a great deal of pride in my African ethnicity and culture. I am not here to compete with people who created their own Western ideal, I am here to experience the culture that was created for me by my people, this is my birthright.
Should Africans dress like Africans even though we may live in New Jersey, or Vancouver or Amsterdam? It’s really up to you, there are Africans from the Motherland who wear African attire for special occasions and some who wear African attire 24/7. It’s really up to the individual. As a Canadian-born African, the desire to wear African attire is completely motivated by my love of my people and culture and a desire to unite with other Africans. It is also motivated by a need to rediscover what an African identity looks like for someone who has been removed from the Motherland for so many generations. I cherish everything I can get my hands on to piece together that identity whether it’s a story of my great-grandmother or an African headscarf.