How to tie an African wrapper

The wrapper is locally referred to as rappa, malaan, or fanoo. It is a piece of garment wrapped around the waist and wildly worn by Africans.

The wrapper was the first form of clothing in Africa, if not the whole world. Northern Africa was the first to introduce cotton clothing. They used their unique skills to make beautiful outfits from cotton and animal skins. West Africa was further away from modernization until the coming of the northern Africans to Western Sudan (used to refer to West Africa).

Later, when cotton was introduced in Africa, people started creating wrappers from cotton and also woven materials.
In the olden days, wrappers signified dignity and respect for young girls and women in African society. To Africans, the dressing should not only be fashionable but also carry modesty and elegance in it. Men in high power positions dressed in traditional outfits like wrappers. Before the arrival of trousers to West Africa, both men and women tied wrappers.
The way of tying a wrapper then determined the gender and age of an individual. Young boys tied a smaller piece of material just above their knees, and elderly men had longer ones below their knees. Young girls had the same as the boys, but they had a smaller wrapper to tie around the bust to cover up. On the other hand, older women will have larger and longer ones to cover their chest up to their ankles.
To this date, women in The Gambia and other parts of West Africa tie wrappers on a daily basis. Mostly in use are wrappers simply tied around the waist, creating a long skirt up to ankles. You can still find men tying wrappers on special occasions in Nigeria, Ghana, or Sierra Leone.
Wrapper offers comfort and creates free movement for women. Women will always wear wrappers when doing household chores. They will also use the wrapper to strap their children on their backs while working. Strapping a child on the back with a wrapper is believed to make them blessed and strong when they grow up. It is also a form of protection for the child against evil spirits. It is said that when a woman carries a child on their back, no wicked eye can cast evil on the child.
Gambians use a popular saying when they want to let a person know not to take them for a fool, and it goes like this; ˝My mother did not strap me on her back with a tissue pepper˝. This saying has a lot of meaning attached to it. It shows that a child was well protected by their mother, and the mother has never allowed the child to be exposed to danger. It also shows that the child, even when they grow up, the blessing of wrapper still follows them.

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