Embracing Ugandan Culture – Gomesi Outfit

My grandmother had Gomesi outfits in different colours and used to wear them during occasions such as weddings; church services and funerals. I come from Busia County which neighbors Uganda and is known for cross border activities between Ugandans and Kenyans. Our tribe is little known Samia that resides along the shores of Lake Victoria and apparently there is a larger Samia tribe in Uganda of which our cultures are more else the same. These include dressing, food, cultural activities etc. hence the dress code Uganda style Gomesi for ladies and Kanzus for men. I really love and appreciate my roots including culture and what have you, hence follow some of the cultural practices where applicable, dressing included that is why I own a timeless piece of Gomesi in my wardrobe.

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Picture:- Courtesy

Gomesi  is a very symbolic outfit in Uganda and parts of Western Kenya especially in Busia County.  Gomesi was first designed in early 40s as a school uniform for a secondary school in Uganda after missionaries realized that girls were dressing indecently to school.  In African society a woman is supposed to be dressed decently to earn respect. In Uganda a woman was not perceived to be dressed decently if she showed up without a Gomesi.

The outfit was done by an Indian Tailor called Fernando Gomes hence the name Gomesi.  Since most students from the school were from rich families Gomesi became a household name amongst the royals thus spreading across Uganda.

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Picture:- Courtesy

The outfits are mostly tailored from Silk and Satin materials after Indian Traders in early 1960s recommended it given that it was light and colorful and affordable than Cotton. The design is almost similar to Kimono worn by Japanese and West African Obi that forms a massive skirt. 

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The outfit is a floor length that is about six layers of fabric on top of another two layers of striped undergarments which makes the outfit look propositional when worn. There are folds and flaps, buttons, a giant belt and tall, pointy shoulders which makes it stand out and a square neckline.

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Wore this during a friend’s wedding. I have a blue belt that I interchange when I need to have a different look

 

The younger generation however  have opted to play around the outfit by coming up with different designs such as strapless Gomesi or long flowing outfits with almost the same design as Gomesi.

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Gomesi outfits have really been transformed to fit every person’s personality starting from children, young ladies to adults. In rural areas it is a form of daily dress, however it is commonly worn during weddings, dowry negotiations to show decency and respect between the two families, funerals as well.

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Picture:- Courtesy

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Picture:- Courtesy

When choosing materials for different occasions put into considerations the colours and patterns. There are different colours and patterns meant for the younger generation and older generations respectively.  For example when choosing an outfit for a wedding go for one with unique colours and patterns.

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Picture:- Courtesy

When accessorizing a Gomesi ensure that shoes and bags match the patterns and colours. You can either color block or choose an outstanding color on the Gomesi.   Be careful when choosing jewelry as well. I would recommend simple earrings e.g studs and Princess Necklaces that will stand out.

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Picture:- Courtesy

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One thought on “Embracing Ugandan Culture – Gomesi Outfit

  1. Lori Wilson July 14, 2015 at 12:14 am Reply

    Is it possible to purchase a pattern for the gomesi? My daughter is married to a Ugandan man and would like to honor the tradition of wearing the gomesi for special occasions. Also, we would love to make them for their daughters.

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