The Dashiki pullover is African traditional clothing originating from West Africa, precisely worn by the Yoruba tribe of Western Nigeria.
Dashiki is coined from a Yoruba dialect word that loosely translates to a loose-fitting pullover. For instance, in the USA, black community wear the dashiki to celebrate and mark the black history month usually in February. In recent times, trends of dashiki worn with matching jeans, skirts or shorts, and other materials are widely spread both around Africa and in the diaspora.
Similarly, the dashiki also means underclothes by the Hausa tribe of Northern Nigeria. This is worn underneath large clothing, the baban riga. In Ghana and Congo, it is referred to as Angelina. This follows similarly with the dashiki work around the continent and beyond.
The dashiki is loosely fitted and worn especially during hot seasons, as it is sewn in such a pattern to allow for intake of air, but it isn’t only worn during this season as it is an all-season round attire as an underclothes can also be worn to accompany the dashiki during cold seasons.
It is believed that the dashiki came into existence as far back as 1970 from the Western part of Nigeria and is generally worn at that time during the heating season. Unlike then, it is presently all-weather clothing that signifies cultural heritage and pride.
The dashiki is colourful and mostly embroidered with a v-neck and short sleeves. It covers the top part of the body and is an attire worn by both sexes, though there might be slight variation in that worn by the females.
There are however formal and informal versions of the dashiki which the informal is the most popularly adopted because of the comfort, versatility, and simplicity that comes with the adornment. And the formal version consists of the dashiki suit and shokoto, trousers, and a matching cap.
Other versions of the dashiki are the Kaftan and Agbada majorly worn in parts of Senegal.
It is sewn using breathable cotton material, made of short sleeves and a V-neck. The dashiki is a fashionable and versatile attire especially made for the climate in West Africa. Aside from loose-fitting attire, the dashiki material is used to make prom dresses, midi and maxi dresses, pants, shorts, and skirts. The for dashiki is also widely used to craft sweaters, pullovers, bags, purses and chokers.
It has a strong cultural symbolism for African Americans in the diaspora and the vibrant colors, and bold designs on the dashiki symbolize freedom and is an African identity most Africans at home and abroad are identified with when they have them on.
As far back as the 1970s as earlier stated, African Americans began wearing the dashiki in an attempt to break out from trending western fashion, racism, and white supremacy. The dashiki was then the best to be identified with the African cultural heritage and representation of freedom from the apartheid. The dashiki was used as a political move for black resistance and is still worn in recent times to represent freedom and for street walks demonstrating their stands on racism, and standing against the unfair treatment of the black community.
In recent years, the dashiki has been identified with lots of popular musicians and blacks around the world. The likes of Beyonce, Rihanna, Wiz Khalifa, Jhene Aiko, and Chris Brown all identify with this trend. It is also widely worn attire during Black History Month, Kwanzaa, and other African-centred events.