"Xhosa dress" Cape Town Local Custom Tip by Jenniflower

Cape Town Local Customs: 53 reviews and 49 photos

  Mary, Mum, Rejoice and Becky
by Jenniflower
  • Mary, Mum, Rejoice and Becky - Cape Town
      Mary, Mum, Rejoice and Becky
    by Jenniflower
  • Mary, Mum, Shaun and Rejoice - Cape Town
      Mary, Mum, Shaun and Rejoice
    by Jenniflower

Xhosas are renown for their very unique and tasteful personal adornment and style in dress. They have a fondness for the colour, red ochre, and dye their blankets in this, which they then wear over their dress. Hence them often being referred to as The Red Blanket People.

Unwed ladies leave their breasts exposed and tie a wrap in their hair as a sign of their status. Engaged women plait their hair, letting it fall over their eyes as a sign of deep respect and acknowledgment of her future in laws. The older you are, the more elaborate and beautiful your headdress can be. Some women put brass bangles and beads around their necks, arms and legs too.

Men dress down generally, only wearing a goat skin for protection. They wear more elaborate outfits during ceremonies.

Mary and Rejoice worked at my mums nursery school and creche. She had it for just over 20 years. Here, her staff wore creche assistant uniforms. In the evenings they would wear usual western-style clothing. When they went home (to their rural home where their family are) on a weekend, they would dress in more traditional apparel for special occasions, but generally still wear western-style clothing.

Mum moved to the UK for a couple of years and has since moved back to South Africa. She is still in contact with Mary, Rejoice and the other staff as they became such a part of our family. They are very dear to us.

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 20, 2006
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