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Made in The Gambia: Koriteh Outfit

My Magazine 2022/05
3 min
It is customary in The Gambia to wear new clothes on Koriteh, which is the feast held on the day after Ramadan ends. On this occasion, most people, both young and old, not necessarily only Muslims, want to wear and look their best.

The planning of Koriteh outfits with many begins way before the month of fasting ends. Selecting designs, saving money to buy the best material and decoration and booking the best tailor in town are part of the whole process.

Koriteh outfits are most commonly traditional clothes, also referred to as African. Men would be wearing their kaftans or 3-piece outfits ornamented with geometric designs, combined with a matching Muslim hat and Marakiss shoes. The most used material for traditional wear is, however, mbaseng, which is a shiny, non-stretching and fast-crumpled material that comes in all possible colours, preferably vibrant ones. Koriteh outfits can also be adorned with sequins, lace and embroidery. Ladies top up their look with a matching bag, high-heels, makeup, and a new wig or head tie.

People go to certain parts of the markets to get the materials from their favourite material shop, which holds countless types and colours of fabrics. Prices vary depending on the type of material and negotiating skills of the buyer.

Once a suitable amount of material is bought, it is time to visit the tailor. There, one would choose the style of the dress, if not already chosen a few weeks before. And again, there comes time to negotiate the price of the tailoring service. Once agreed, the tailor would take the measurements and let the customer know when is the time to come and collect the dress.

When the day comes, the customer will go and do a fitting. If necessary, yet not often due to the great skills of the tailors, adjustments will be made. The dress will now be packed neatly at home to wait for Koriteh. Traditional clothes are rarely washed as it would reduce the shine and quality of the clothes.

On the day of Koriteh, everyone wakes up early to prepare for the special day. Women do their makeup and hair, while men will cut their hair fresh and groom their beards. Then they wear their new clothes proudly, take many pictures - individually and with family and friends and puff as they visit family members and enjoy the day throughout.

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