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    Basay Sada

      One’s view of a specific colour is affected and influence by various culture, religious, history and politics. Colours can represent emotions, victories and tradition. Colours is relevant to African. When you check out some African clothing, you would realize how colourful, rich and vibrant they are. These vibrant colours are not only attractive to the eye but however has symbolical meaning. In Africa culture, colours have symbols especially when they are used in fabric and clothing.


      Let’s look at some of the most common royalty colors in Africa, and then explore them in full;






      This colour is a symbol of royalty and wealth in Africa. Purple also symbolizes the essence of femininity. This colour is a deep and rich colour.  It represents the strong and beautiful nature of womanhood. However, we are taking look at its royalty. Historically, Purple dye was expensive to produce that is why it is often associated with wealth. This warm colour is often used in some west African clothings like Aso Oke, Berberand  Bogolan.





      This related colour is the colour of sunlight. These warm colours however have been used by brands like lipton to give their logos happy vibe but in Africa culture it is different. Yellow is the colour of wealth and status. These two colours symbolize wealth in a number of forms like high status and royalty. They also represent spiritual purity, fertility, beauty and the precious nature of life. Among the Zulus who are predominant in South Africa, yellow has some significant meaning. They use yellow beads. Yellow referred to as Isithunywa in Zulu which means the gift of prophecy.





      It represents sacrificial rites, bloodshed and death. Red signifies the bloodshed in warfare or in childbirth. There is no same interpretation of colours among the Africans. Let’s take a look at some culture’s view of red. The Urhobo people who inhabit Nigeria view red differently. They refer red to the ideal feminine beauty of a nubile bride. However, among the Pende people in Congo Zaire, red simply refers to as masculinity. While the Bullom people of Sierra Leone, this is the color of the blood lost in childbirth and warfare.

      Red Beads also play a key role in Yoruba culture. They symbolize royalty status. These beads are also used to signify an individual of important political or spiritual distinction.

      In Edo, the red coral is important among the royals, nobles and chiefs. If the Oba of Edo sends a coral to an individual, then he is bestowing him with a chief title.





      White, commonly used as a background colour, has no significance of its own. However, it’s still worth looking at what it means in various African traditions. White in African culture represents peace, purity, goodness and good luck in Africa but some parts of Africa sees white as a contrast of what it is being represented in other traditions. Ethiopia however is one of these countries. To them, white indicates illness. The color white may signify the spirit world of the ancestors among many African people. The Maasai, nomads treasure their cattle and everything they provide. Milk which feeds their calves and their children is considered pure. The milk’s white colour inspires the meaning.  They make handmade Jewelry of white beads to communicate purity and peace. In the northern part of Africa, people were allowed to wear the ‘tailasan’ which is of white colour only during the two major Muslim festivals. However judges, preachers, and jurists wear it daily.







      Black are often underrepresented and misinterpreted. When you mix all of the colours of the rainbow together, then it turns into the colour of night, darkness, and shadows. However, it’s not surprising that the colour black has so a lot of symbolic meanings in Africa various culture. In some African cultures, Black indicates maturity and masculinity. This neutral colour is used for mourning. It also has profound spiritual energy.

      Let us take a look at Kente an African traditional cloth with different colours which has significant importance and are worn differently in important times.






      These clothes are native to the Akan tribe in Ghana. It is popular among the Akans of the Ivory Coast and so many West African countries. This cloth however can be described as the best clothing in Africa because of its vibrancy and bright colour.  These clothes bright colours have significant colours and are usually worn for occasional purpose. This cloth is a type of silk and cotton fabric that is made of interwoven cloth strips. It is about 3-5 inches wide and 5-6 feet long. The cloth is woven in a narrow strip called ntomaban or bankuo  This was the cloth of kings. Kente is an Akan royal and sacred cloth. It is traditionally worn only during important time. History has it that the clothes were developed when Kurugu and Ameyaw were hunting. They came across a spider spinning its web and they wanted to replicate the beauty of the web.  They created the first Kente from black and white raffia fibers when they first got home. They presented it to a king. The king was impressed and suggested the inclusion of other colours. However, some people conclude that it is a fable.

      Kente is made up of meaningful colours that convey messages.

      Let’s take a look at the meaning of the different Kente colours.

      Black means a union with ancestors, portrays spiritual energy as well as maturity and for funeral rites, mourning.



      Gold signifies high status, monetary wealth and royalty. It also symbolizes fertility and spiritual purity. Yellow which has similar attributes to Gold symbolizes fertility, beauty and preciousness. Red symbolizes passion, sacrificial rites, spiritual and political moods.  Blue signifies pure spirit, togetherness, love, peace and harmony



      Purple are normally worn by women and it is often associated with femininity. Pink just like purple also symbolizes feminine qualities, including mildness.



      Green symbolizes growth and renewal. These are both spiritual growth and it is also relating to the land, harvest, vegetation and crops. White are for festive occasion. It symbolizes cleansing rites and pureness.

      • This topic was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Admin.

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