THE DASHIKI: A SYMBOL OF AFRICA

What is a dashiki? A dashiki is a loose fitting colorful garment that resembles a shirt, although it might cover up as much as half of the body. It often is adorned with patterns and colors that are closely associated with African cultures.

The dashiki was closely associated with the Black cultural and political movements of the 1960s. With its brightly colored patterns and loose fit that hung down instead of being tucked into pants, the dashiki was just one way that people expressed their dissatisfaction with what was conceived as acceptable men’s fashions of that time and as a way to protest against social, economic and political conditions that plagued the African-American population here in the United States. Occasionally, it would be worn as a sign of protest, but most times, its appearance was a sign of African pride.

Over time, the dashiki became synonymous with black is beautiful. For the wearer, it was a way to show a deep seated interest and love for one’s African roots, as well as a way to weigh in and express one’s position for full rights in American society.

Although the militancy of the 1960s is long gone, what the dashiki represents has not been forgotten. It is still worn by thousands as a symbol of one’s love for his/her
African roots and everything African including that within the American culture. This is especially true during holidays such as Kwanzaa and Black History Month.

This traditional African garment is very popular in many countries, such as Nigeria. In America, it holds a unique place as a garment that carries its own message of pride, fortitude, and hope.

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