What Do Coloureds Wear On Heritage Day

Every year on social media I read posts by coloured people that go something like this:

  1. What is a coloured person’s tradition?
  2. What are the traditional clothing of a coloured person?
  3. Do coloured people even have a tradition?

Now, before we go any futher, let’s define the word, “Tradition”

Google Definition of “Tradition”

What that basically means is that it is things that families and cultures have been doing for generations and that have been passed on.

Can traditions be changed on modified to fit in with the current generation?

I personally think so, there will always be a touch of history in any tradition that you have but if it needs to be changed slightly or something should be added or something should be excluded, then so be it. It doesn’t take away from the history or the meaning of the tradition. But I can understand that many people would feel differently about this.

Indian Tradiitonal Attire

During my research on this post, I googled “Traditional Coloured clothing” and this is what came up;

None of the above symbolises what coloured people really are but then again, we are a very versatile race and if I have to be honest, we can pretty much wear anything.

Anoter thing I always wonder about when it comes to Heritage Day and Coloured people is whether or not we actually do celebrate it or whether its just like any other regular day.

With food is was always much easier,traditional Coloured food would be Milktart or Koeksisters and Braai food (BBQ)

Traditional South African Food, Koeksisters
Melktert (Milktart)

What this post comes down to however, is that as a Coloured person, I grapple with the same issue every year and I have noticed this year especially on social media, that many other Coloured people are asking the same question;

What exactly is our tradition?

What I do know is that we are a very proud race, sometimes I think we thrive on the stereotypes that make us.

The good ones and the bad ones.

In reality, we are a bit of everything and I think that’s exactly what makes us such a beautiful race.



This Heritage Month, we take a look at some of the traditional clothing worn by our beautiful nation.


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For Xhosa women, the most common traditional wear is umbhaco. It is a long skirt and apron made from printed or embroidered fabrics. The Xhosa attire includes beaded necklaces, called ithumbu.https://www.instagram.com/p/Cxa2kHRt2yK/embed/?cr=1&v=14&wp=534&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.glamour.co.za&rp=%2Flifestyle%2Fglamour-guides%2Fthis-is-what-you-could-wear-this-heritage-day-a636b6e6-2eac-47dc-8455-264254aa9764#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A9043.59999999404%2C%22ls%22%3A5648.399999991059%2C%22le%22%3A7369.5999999940395%7D


Worn by married women as a sign of respect to one’s husband and his family, isicholo is a flared disk-shaped hat. This hat is accompanied by a thick, cowhide skirt which has been softened with animal fat and charcoal, called isidwaba.

Men wear a front apron, known as an isinene, and a rear apron, ibheshu, to cover the genitals and buttocks.

Zulu isicholo hat, Instagram: @isicholo


This culture is big on colours and beads. Worn by married women, idzila is an accessory placed around the neck, arms, and legs. Their colourful blanket, umbalo, is also for married women. And then there is the signature beaded headband known as amacubi.

The main item of clothing for men is an iporiyana. Decorated with beads, it hangs on the neck. They also wear animal skin called karos to keep warm.https://www.instagram.com/p/CJbht6dF2rq/embed/?cr=1&v=14&wp=534&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.glamour.co.za&rp=%2Flifestyle%2Fglamour-guides%2Fthis-is-what-you-could-wear-this-heritage-day-a636b6e6-2eac-47dc-8455-264254aa9764#%7B%22ci%22%3A1%2C%22os%22%3A9051.59999999404%2C%22ls%22%3A5648.399999991059%2C%22le%22%3A7369.5999999940395%7D


The Vavenda wear munwenda, a multi-coloured striped cloth that comes in two pieces – a top and a bottom. It is paired with beads such as lutomola tsie, mapala, tshithivho vivho, zwifudzi, magidipho, and makunda. They also have musisi, a skirt-like garment made from the munwenda material.



The most iconic clothing item in the Xitsonga culture is xibelani. It is a knee-length skirt typically worn by Xitsonga women. It is made from a bolt of cloth, a fabric called salempur, about 18m long. They also have a top called a yele that they wear with a tightly fitting T-shirt.https://www.instagram.com/p/CFAGvmlDNUZ/embed/?cr=1&v=14&wp=534&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.glamour.co.za&rp=%2Flifestyle%2Fglamour-guides%2Fthis-is-what-you-could-wear-this-heritage-day-a636b6e6-2eac-47dc-8455-264254aa9764#%7B%22ci%22%3A3%2C%22os%22%3A19298.59999999404%2C%22ls%22%3A5648.399999991059%2C%22le%22%3A7369.5999999940395%7D


Tswana women wear an apron called a khiba, with a skirt called a mosese. Men wear a kaross, a blanket made from animal skin, to cover up.https://www.instagram.com/p/CrJUwakMPod/embed/?cr=1&v=14&wp=534&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.glamour.co.za&rp=%2Flifestyle%2Fglamour-guides%2Fthis-is-what-you-could-wear-this-heritage-day-a636b6e6-2eac-47dc-8455-264254aa9764#%7B%22ci%22%3A4%2C%22os%22%3A19355.09999999404%2C%22ls%22%3A5648.399999991059%2C%22le%22%3A7369.5999999940395%7D


They wear a traditional Basotho dress called the seshoeshoe. However, a statement piece is the Basotho blanket, worn by both men and women over the shoulders.



The Swati culture is complex as their clothing style varies according to age and gender. Some items are reserved for specific ceremonies, such as the incwala or the umhlanga (reed dance).

However, married women wear skin aprons and skin skirts. They also have another apron they wear under the armpits; after the birth of their first child they put the same apron over one shoulder and style their hair in a bun. Married men wear loin skins.https://www.instagram.com/p/Cwuym1MtHSc/embed/?cr=1&v=14&wp=534&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.glamour.co.za&rp=%2Flifestyle%2Fglamour-guides%2Fthis-is-what-you-could-wear-this-heritage-day-a636b6e6-2eac-47dc-8455-264254aa9764#%7B%22ci%22%3A6%2C%22os%22%3A24896.09999999404%2C%22ls%22%3A5648.399999991059%2C%22le%22%3A7369.5999999940395%7D

This article originally appeared on IOL

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