Textiles

By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Senegal, cloth, cotton. Private Collection of Victoria Rovine.

All over Africa, cloths are made and worn to commemorate important people and events such as election campaigns, festivals, visits by foreign dignitaries, and national holidays. To have a cloth made in one's honor is a dramatic indication of high status usually reserved for heads of state. Since the early 20th century, commemorative cloths have been produced in Europe for the African market, and in the 1960s several African countries, including Senegal, established textile factories and began to produce their own commemorative cloths. People wear the cloth to indicate their support for particular causes or candidates, to celebrate events, or simply because they like its design. For Senegalese people, wearing this cloth from the 1993 presidential campaign indicated their political affiliation and added to the status of the candidate, Abdou Diouf, who was president of Senegal from 1981 to 2000.