Life in Bamako
Growing up in the Malian capital of Bamako has inspired me in more ways than one. In Africa we say, "It takes a village to raise a child." In my case, I grew up surrounded by four generations of family members, so the saying couldn't be more true.
I would spend the after-school hours with the other kids running, biking, and playing soccer in the street. On the weekends, the entire neighborhood would take part in traditional festivities and dances. Everyone in attendance wore their finest outfits showcasing vibrant colors and eye-catching patterns that immediately drew me in.
In Mali, our clothing is intimately linked to our culture and traditions. The country's ethnic diversity adds to the array of striking color combinations, and unique patterns. Most of the local textiles are dyed with natural pigments, then painstakingly painted by hand making each and every garment unique from the next.
Malian fashion is best seen during town festivities or family gatherings where every color of the rainbow from rich burgundy and natural tones to striking shades of teal make an appearance. For women, tunics, long dresses, and silk skirts with matching turbans are the norm. Men wear traditional boubous, a full-length tunic in equally bold colors and patterns.
Mud cloth is a one-of-a-kind textile from Mali that has gained popularity worldwide. The technique used to create the cloth dates back hundreds of years and is still a cherished part of our culture today. The handspun textiles are dyed with a natural base coat of leaves and dried in the sun before being painted. The paint is made from mud that has been fermented for up to a year and reacts to the base coat ensuring the pigment remains after the mud is washed off. Gorgeous garments and accessories are then produced showcasing repetitive geometric patterns iconic of the region.
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