In Rwanda, people are trying to restore the tradition of wearing the national garment of the country – an elegant female mushanana. This attire is a little bit similar to a very simply draped Indian sari. But it is historically used in Africa and is a large part of Rwandan culture. Today, the mushanana is gaining more and more popularity among young women of Rwanda. We’ll introduce this garment to you and share some secrets of wearing the mushanana correctly.
Wearing traditional costume often shows a sense of loyalty and pride in one's cultural values. And there are few places in the African region where this is more evident than in Rwanda. Today Rwandan women, young and old, are fully embracing the country’s traditional dress code.
This is not an Indian sari, though it looks a little bit like it. It is a “mushanana” (mishanana for plural) – Rwanda’s traditional women's attire made of light and heavy silk. Very soft, it comes in bold prints and sometimes just plain cloth.
“The advantage of mushanana is that it works very well in symbolizing one of the Rwanda’s cultural values. Our culture is made up of various aspects: the way we dress, the way we eat, and even how we talk. Therefore, the mushanana goes a long way in showcasing our Rwandan culture in the world”, says one of the Rwandan women.
Bride and her bridesmaids in Rwandan traditional mishanana
Traditionally, all the women mainly wore this dress, but the times changed. The mushanana is now mostly wandering formal occasions. Though, younger women today are embracing it more.
“The mushanana is an important outfit because it represents a culture of my country, and I like it personally because when you wear a mushanana, you look respectful, more beautiful. That’s why I like it”, comments another Rwandan young woman.
But just how does one wear a mushanana? After a woman wears a vest (or a tank top), she ties the skirt of mushanana around her hips. It should be tied in a very and very decent way because sometimes people make a mistake – when you tie it very badly, it can stop you from walking. And it also may disturb you while you're walking. After tying the bottom part, you have to put on the upper part of the outfit – the sash draped over one shoulder. It's not tied together, you can fold it with your hand or you can use some kind of jewelry that will hold it together.
Rwandan young women wearing mishanana is daily life
The mushanana business is the lucrative one. The prices range from 100,000 Rwandan francs and equivalent (about $118) to 13,000 Kenyan shillings (about $128) and above. Depending on the fabric of the cloth. The mushanana is often bought not only by Rwandans but by Kenyans, and people from East Africa.
The Rwandans say that a mushanana, if picked correctly, will make you oozing with beauty. It is said that any woman will just look elegant in this garment, that is if you pick the fabric correctly.