Who needs online shopping in Namibia when the latest trends of dresses dangle as gracefully as ornaments on trees or on quirky hangers at open markets? Well, I much rather prefer this simplified shopping as the vendor is often the seamstress, who is ready to tailor your preferred choice if necessary.
One popular item to grace these stalls is clothing made from a distinct material with pink, red and black stripes which forms part of the traditional attire of the Aawambo communities. This dazzling and bold pink fabric is used to make a variety of modern dresses, skirts, shirts or trousers.
The pink colour is originally obtained from a pink powder dye. The powder is mixed with water and the fabric is then soaked into it to attain the pink colour.
The fabric is commonly known as Odelela. Traditionally, there are three different stripe combinations representing three different Aawambo tribes – the Kwanyama, Ndonga and Ngandjera. It certainly does take some time to get these dresses to their exquisite state.
So here are a few tips on how, what or where to actually get yourself that dress or shirt:
Where can I get one?
Clothing made from this traditional fabric is mostly available at local markets. If you are spending some time in Windhoek after your Kalahari Experience, stop at the Namibia Craft Market to check out dresses, shirts or bags at the Ondjaba Art Shop stall or if you are making your way to China Town have a peak around as there will be various shades of pink, luring you to purchase a shirt or dress.
What types of styles are available?
Due to the popularity of this fabric, it is now available in modern fashion styles as well as traditional styles with a twist. It’s used for shirts, skirts, trousers, shorts, bags and even earrings. There are multiple options to suit your needs and don’t be afraid to ask the vendor!
When should I wear this attire?
You’ll probably meet someone rocking their swanky trousers or cute dress in a mall or at a restaurant near you. So, wear yours how you see fit! More so, special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and cultural events are where a lot more people are dressed in the various shades of this pink traditional attire.
How should I wear it suitably?
Dresses and shirts are flattered with a matching head wrap, beaded necklace made from mussels and with a black or white pair of Tommy tekkies or Veld skoene that you can surely find at Shilongo Leather Works. And for men, trousers and shirts are also complimented with a pair of veld skoene, however if you prefer not to wear them just rock it, as you’ll be looking exquisite and dapper anyway!
When you’re finally in Namibia be sure to leave with that dashing pink bag, shirt or dress to show off to your friends and family.
Where else can you purchase this traditional attire in Namibia? If you have that unique styled outfit in this fabric share a photo with us in the comment section below.
Author – I’m Nela, from Windhoek Namibia but born in a small village called Omatunda in northern Namibia. I am passionate about writing, research and photography, as it helps me gain knowledge about people and my country.