Fashion Mon, 22 Jul 2013

Traditional Outfits Portray Elegance

Kaba Ngondo, Esanja, Toghu garments and Boubous are worn daily by many Cameroonians.

Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Jean Claude Mbwentchou, Jean Pierre Fogui, Yaou Aissatou, Ama Tutu Muna, late John Ngu Foncha and late Theodore Mayi ma Matip ma Ndombol, among other personalities, have one thing in common: elegance in their traditional attire worn daily. Their examples show, or had, to an unchallengeable extent that Cameroonians can put on their traditional wear on a daily basis and still look elegant. In the same vein, CRTV journalist and anchor of the morning talk show programme "Hello," Albert Njie Mbonde, who dresses up exclusively in traditional outfits from different regions, showcases Esanja, Toghu, Gandouras and many others with elegance.

Toghu "Bamenda" Garment

Popularly called the Grassfield traditional regalia, observers say Toghu garments are colourful and beautiful. Won by late Statesmen such as John Ngu Foncha, Solomon Tandeng Muna, Fonka Shang Lawrence and today by Ni John Fru Ndi, the traditional Bamenda garment made with the "Toghu" fabric was used during the opening ceremony of 2012 London Olympic Games by Cameroon's athletes. Even though in the yesteryears, it was exclusively won by traditional authorities of the North West and West Regions, efforts have been made by a multitude of designers to promote its use in society. "Toghu is to Cameroonians like Kente is to Ghanaians," affirms Anrette Ngafor, the co-manager of Kirette Couture, a London-based fashion design house that promotes the "Toghu" fabric around the world.

Kaba Ngondo, Esanja

Which Cameroonian does not marvel at the popularity of the Kaba Ngondo, a bell-shaped female garment, free-flowing from shoulder to knees or ankles which though originated from the coastal Duala and Bakweri tribes, has spread to all regions. It has become the official design during the popular International Women's Day celebrated every March 8. "I think the Kaba Ngondo is more of a national outfit because it is an easy-to-wear attire and most women feel comfortable wearing it to various occasions," explains Anrette Ngafor.

In coastal villages, the men wear the long-waist loins, Esanja, made of different forms of cotton textile or embroidered fabrics. It is a loincloth tied around the waist with two overlapping ends on the side. It is usually worn by a long-sleeve shirt with headscarf around the neck or waist.

Gandouras, Boubous

In the West and northern regions, the most common traditional outfits are colourful, flowing and often embroidered garments worn by men and women. While men wear four-piece Gandouras, women wear gowns known as Boubous. The popularity and use of the garments now go beyond the northern regions as Cameroonians of all tribes also love them.


A multitude of tribes in the South West, North West, Littoral, West as well as the Adamawa, North and Far North Regions have loincloths or "wrappers" as main traditional and daily wear. In the South West, North West and some parts of the Littoral, women wear loincloths made of cotton fabrics in two pieces, with a headscarf to match and accompanied usually by a white blouse. In the northern regions, women wear double loincloths with the blouse and headscarf made from the same textile fabrics.

Source: Cameroon Tribune

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