Democratic Republic of the Congo/ Zaire: Garments

Congo garments rompers
Figure 1.--Here we see a Belgian mother and her two sons in the Congo during 1956. The boys are stylishly dressed in baloon sleeve blouses and bib-front rompers. The boys look to be about 2-4 years old. "

Congo children have worn a range of clothing over time. Until The late 20th century, this ws largely determined by geography and climate. Congo was located in the heart of Africa, up the Congo river from the coast. Few Europeans vebtyred this far inland until the after the mid-19th centry. The Equator crosses the Congo, giving the country a tropical climate. As a result, few clothes were needed. And children especially boys did not wear much in the way of clothing--a common pattern throughout the tropics, bur especilly the case in Africa. Younger children did not wear clothig. Older children night wear a simple loin cloth. Even adults did not wear much in the way of clothing, Here not only was climate a factor, but the tribal groups were relatively primitive, meaning that creating textiles were a problem. This did not chnge even sfter the Belgians arrived. Some Congole in towns adopted Western dress if they could afford it, but the great bulk of the population lived in rural areas and dressed in traditional style. The Belgians for their part the styles popular in Belgium itself. At first without many concessions to the tropical climate, but as the 20th century progressed we see Belgians dressing less formally as they might in Belgium during the summer. After the turn of the 20th century, we gradully see Congolese boys wearing more European styles. The Belgians and other Europens largely left the country (1960). Although the Congo descened into chaos, we see more and more boys wearing casual Europen styles. Commonly ths menant a simple, oftn colrless shirt and short pants. We see them increasingly wearing styles popular in Europe during the summer. By the 21st century we no longer see many boys dressing in traditionl styles, but going brefoot was still common.


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Created: 11:45 PM 11/26/2012
Last updated: 11:45 PM 11/26/2012