The Dashiki – A Symbol for African Pride
Updated: Jun 19, 2020
The word “dashiki" comes from the Yoruba word danshiki, used to refer to the loose-fitting pullover which originated in West Africa as a functional work tunic for men, comfortable enough to wear in the heat. The Yoruba loaned the word danshiki from the Hausa term dan ciki, which means "underneath." The dan chiki garment was commonly worn by males under large robes. Similar garments were found in sacred Dogon burial caves in Southern Mali, which date back to the 12th and 13th centuries.
The roots of the garment are not lost on anyone—it is an unmistakably African item. Its symbolic significance, however, was molded thousands of miles outside of the continent's borders. It was those of African descent, whose ancestors were hauled to North America in chains, who carried this torch. The Civil Rights and Black Panther Movements of the 1960s and early 70s gave the dashiki its political potency. African Americans adopted the article as a means of rejecting Western cultural norms. This is when the dashiki moved beyond style and functionality to become an emblem of Black pride, as illustrative of the beauty of blackness as an afro or a raised fist.