By Charlotte Grieg, Robert Lee Humphrey
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Additional resources for Africa (Cultures and Costumes)
Today, kente cloth is worn for everyday use in Ghana and many other West African countries, and the highest-quality cloth, called nsaduaso, which has beautiful silk inlay patterns, is made only for special commissions. 43 Africa p40-49 CH04 19/09/02 16:00 Page 44 AFRICA Colors of Life Today, kente cloth is produced across West Africa by many different peoples. Among the Asante of Ghana, colors have special meanings. Yellow, the color of egg yolk and many types of ripe fruit, is associated with fertility; red, the color of blood, symbolizes struggle, sacriﬁce, and mourning; and blue, the color of the sky, means spiritual harmony, love, and peace.
Today, small numbers of the Khoikhoin live on reserves or among Europeans in South Africa and neighboring Namibia. They have adopted a primarily Western way of life, but a few still follow the traditional pastoral ways of life. These South African tribesmen wear animal skin loincloths with the fur worn against the skin. Their shields and assegais (spears) are also made of animal skin. For hunting, leather sandals are worn. 53 Africa p50-59 CH05 19/09/02 16:10 Page 54 AFRICA This Zulu chief wears a leopard skin on his chest and animal fur around his wrists and knees, indicating his status.
The men from an age set, or regiment, could only marry when the king gave them permission. The king was also responsible for the nation’s spiritual well-being, performing rain-making and other ceremonies in accordance with the Zulus’ religious beliefs. The Zulus believed in a creator god as well as in evil spirits, ideas that later became mixed with Christianity. As colonial power increased, the importance of the Zulu kings, chiefs, and military traditions declined. Traditional Zulu war costume is now worn only for weddings and other ceremonies.