The kaba or kabba is a common dress in west and central Africa. It is popular in Ghana and Cameroon for example where it is worn for comfort as a long, ample and free-flowing dress. It is typically made of 100% cotton with prints applied using batik or wax technique.
The kaba is the little black dress of Africa. It is flexible as it fits all body shapes an can be worn for a home dress-down or an evening dress-up. It is typical of certain tribes to create a kaba with a specific print for a particular occasion, for example rallies, parades, funerals. Otherwise the right kabas will be perfect for your needs, be it as an ample pregnancy wear, an elegant wedding attire, an unencombering work uniform and a lot more. They are ideal under the sun as they allow the skin to breathe.
Sometimes the extra cloth is used as a head dress or even complements the look with via a bag or other accessory, depending on the climate, the occasion and the tribal or religious requirements.
Historically, the kaba is actually casual. It is easy to be worn because it is so loose and wide. So, traditionally and originally it has been something to be worn at home, going to the market or just chatting casually on the streets on the way home. Its ampleness allows its wearer to move freely, making it perfect for performing house chores.
Deido’s King James Frederic Ekwalla Essaka Deido though reminds us of its origins in Cameroon at least. The garment was created to cover the natives when the colons’ wives felt uneasy at the exposition of females to their husbands. The Deido chief goes on to commend the way that the Douala, his tribe, have taken something that was meant to deny their traditions as if they were to be asamed of and turned into something positive.
Since then, the imagination of fashion designers in Africa and beyond has taken over the phenomenon, taking advantage of its strengths to make it the versatile garment that we know and love even more today.
This visit of the Deido chef in Paris showcases, among others, the kaba, worn by the ladies around him.