Friday, January 23, 2015

Performers Wearing Dashikis In The South African Region

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases nine videos of Southern African male choir members and members of other vocal groups wearing dashikis. These videos are only a very small example of the custom of some Black male vocalists in certain regions of Africa wearing dashikis (with long Western style pants) to represent African culture instead of wearing Western style shirts and pants or Western style suits.

Click for the related pancocojams post "Dashikis An Adaptation Of Yoruba Dansikis". That post provides historical information about dashikis, including text information and video examples of Yoruba danshikis which served as the prototype for the design of dashikis by certain African American males in the late 1960s.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic reasons.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos. Thanks also to all those quoted in this post and to the cpublishers of these videos on YouTube.

As a community folklorist I think that it's interesting to note the custom of a number of Black male choir members -particularly in the Southern region of Africa- wearing dashikis along with Western style long pants. I've concluded that wearing a dashiki and pants serves as a Western society acceptable substitute for those males' ethnic groups' traditional attire that consist of being shirtless & wearing a loin cloth and/or wearing a draped animal fur robe.

As a result of this custom of wearing dashikis, that garment continues to serve one of the purposes for which it was created in the late 1960s- to be an immediate symbol of the wearer's "Africanness".

As an African American, I find it ironic that this African American adaptation of Yoruba Nigeria traditional male attire has become a common symbol of Africa for so many continental African males, albeit that dashikis are only worn as performance costumes by those males and not as every day clothing.

These examples are presented in chronological order based on their posting date on YouTube with the oldest dated example given first. The nation from which the performing group comes is given in brackets after the video title. Also notice that except in the case of the Zambian Gospel video, the audiences for these vocal performances aren't wearing dashikis or traditional African attire.

Example #1: The Drakensberg Boys Choir - Shosholoza [South Africa]

Chris Brooks, Uploaded on Jun 30, 2008

Absolute chillingly good song sung by the best boys choir in South Africa. All the boys are very talented and very intelligent. All boys need an above average IQ to get in the choir as they have to go to a private school and the nature of the choir the study where ever they are. Wait for the middle of video absolutely wow!!!
This video is also featured on for a video of that choir. Video #2 in that post shows examples of children in Nigeria wearing traditional Yoruba attire.


First Baptist Church of St. Charles, Uploaded on Nov 9, 2008

OH HAPPY DAY performed by African Children's Choir at First Baptist Church of St. Charles, Mo

Example #3: Zambia - Angela Nyirenda - Ngoma [Zambia]

Seka Moke Uploaded on Jan 1, 2009

I'm aware that this video doesn't meet the criteria of being a Black male vocal group. However, the musicians backing up the female singer are wearing dashikis.

Example #4: African choir sings banuwa [Uganda]

Nico van den Berge Uploaded on Jun 1, 2009

Example #5: Zambian gospel music (Samfya catholic church Zambia) [Zambia]

nkandu81, Uploaded on Jul 24, 2009

sounds en voices of a zambian catholic choir
By emmanuel Banda

Example #6: Mzansi Youth Choir [South Africa]

Tony Stroebel Uploaded on Jul 19, 2010

One of the best choirs South Africa has to offer! Performed at the opening of the Fifa 2010 Soccer World cup. Shot with a Canon 5D by Redletter productions.

Example #7: PAMATA - Indlamu - Musaion 03.06.2012 [South Africa]

PAMATA, Published on Jun 4, 2012
"Indlamu" is an isiZulu traditional dance style to show strength.

PAMATA (Pan African Music and Theatre Arts) is a cultural and skills development organisation started in 2008 to develop, educate, nurture and inspire South African youth through the arts and culture.

The performers are: Blessing Rammego, CalvinGifted Manyaka Wa Mamphela, Elsie Zondo, Humbulani Mathivha, Nhlanhla Momozana KaMahlang, Reneilwe Madibe, Sammy Blood, Thato, William Lehlogonolo, Zoe Mhlanga, & Julius Kyakuwa

Pamata Director: Charles K. Mugerwa
Artistic Director: Julius Kyakuwa

Musaion Auditorium (University of Pretoria) - 03/06/2012

Example #8: Soweto Gospel Choir - Asimbonanga/Biko [South Africa]

pannellctp, Soweto Gospel Choir Uploaded on Jul 5, 2011

"Asimbonanga/Biko" By the Soweto Gospel Choir Blessed Live In Concert dvd

Example #9: Ladysmith Black Mamabazo singing Homeless, Xigubu, Oliver Twist, Y tjukutja

pitso razo , Published on Jun 14, 2014

The performance that had everyone talking - Ladysmith Black Mambazo singing "Xigubu", "Oliver Twist" and "Y-Tjukutja" at the #MTVMAMA! Check it out and let us know what you think!

For the historical record, I should mention that few African Americans-male or females- ever wore dashikis. And only a few African Americans nowadays wear dashikis outside of Kwanzaa celebrations or African Day at church. Even then, it's my experience that there's a strong preference for people who wear African clothing to wear "authentic" clothes from the motherland such as agbadas for men and any number of Senegalese style African dresses for women. For example, note that dashikis are worn by the boys in this Kwanzaa video and not by the father. Also,note the custom of wearing kente cloth stoles as a short cut symbol of African culture.

Sesame Street: Kwanzaa

Sesame Street,Uploaded on Dec 17, 2008

In this clip, a family celebrates Kwanzaa.
Also, read my comments about the Hip Hop video about dashikis that is featured in the pancocojams post

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