History of Ankara: How Ankara Fabric came into Use in Africa and Beyond

History of Ankara: How Ankara Fabric came into Use in Africa and Beyond

History of Ankara: How Ankara Fabric came into Use in Africa and Beyond

Hello, lovelies. Today we would be looking at a unique article on Africa’s most popular dress. This ever-beautiful dress would be our main focus, as we date back to the history and development of the dress. In this post, we shall not be showing you designs and styles as usual. We want to talk about the history of Ankara fabric in Africa, how and when it came into use. History of Ankara: How Ankara Fabric came into Use in Africa and Beyond.

 Insight: How Ankara Designs Came Into Existence

· Introduction
· History
· Dispersal
· Occasions to attend with the dress
· Places beyond Africa where the dress has been found

History of Ankara: How Ankara Fabric came into Use in Africa


Living in Africa, no one can claim to be unaware or oblivious of the Ankara dress fabric. The Ankara fabric is a dress material which is known as Ankara in West Africa countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal, ETC and known as Kitenge in East Africa countries.

The Ankara or Kitenge fabric is also widely referred to as ‘Holland wax, Dutch wax or African wax prints fabric’. The fabric has gotten very popular in different African countries. The Ankara or Kitenge fabric is known for its amazing and beautiful color and a never-ending list of design patterns. The fabric is now known for its colorful paints and has popularly been associated with African clothing.


A good reason why many people prefer the Ankara or Kitenge fabric to many other printer fabrics is that the intensity of the African prints is unchanging and does not fade when compared to other fabrics that fade whose color, prints, and beauty fades away quickly.

The reason for the long-lasting prints of the African fabric is in its method of manufacture. Its manufacturing method is a ‘wax resistant’ technique that helps the prints, color, and beauty of the fabric to last for a very long time.

The African prints and designs in the Ankara or Kitenge fabric can be produced industrially with large-scale textile machines or made locally by hand. Hand-made designs and prints are usually unique because the designer can only design one at a time making that Ankara design rare whereas industrially produced designs are not so unique and can have a lot of imperfections.


History of the Ankara or Kitenge Dress Fabric in Africa 

It is amazing and unbelievable that the Ankara dress fabric which has for a very long time been associated with Africa fashion and Africa at large did not originate from African countries. Many people have widely believed that the fabric originated from Ghana, Nigeria, or Senegal.

Truly, Ghana is the first country that the Ankara or Kitenge fabric was first found in, but that is very far from the origin of the dress.

Reports have it that the dress which first made it to Africa in the 1800s was first created in Indonesia. The Indonesian locals made the fabric back then. The Africa slaves which had been recruited in the Indonesian army and African mercenaries picked interest in the dress and brought it to Africa (It was first brought into Ghana before any other African country).

The various styles and patterns of the Ankara fabric made in Indonesia were not widely accepted by the masses, so when the Indonesians saw that Africans liked and appreciated the dress fabric, they turned to Africa.

Africans made and designed even better styles and prints of the Ankara and Kitenge dress fabric than the Indonesians did.

 Now, the once unpopular dress fabric became popular in Africa in a very short time, and not long after, the Ankara and Kitenge dress fabric became a part of Africa’s identity and recognition worldwide, to the extent that many people now think that the Ankara dress fabric originated from Africa.


History of Ankara: How Ankara Fabric came into Use in Africa and Beyond

Advantages of the Ankara and Kitenge Dress Fabric over Other Dress Fabrics

The Ankara and Kitenge dress fabric has quite an extensive library of its advantages over other dress fabrics. But here are some of its most common advantages:

·         It is economic and money-saving: The Ankara dress fabric actually helps a person who cannot afford a foreign suit or attire to dress well and still look really rich. It is relatively cheap and affordable for people from all walks of life.

  • It is beautiful: 

The Ankara dress fabric enhances the beauty and appearance of the wearer with its own beauty. The Ankara and Kitenge dress fabric with its amazing beauty makes its wearer stand out from the crowd in fashion and appearance.

·         Its design prints do not fade: 

Unlike most other printed fabrics, the Ankara or Kitenge dress fabric does not fade, giving it forever lasting beauty. Its ability to maintain its prints, color, designs, and beauty makes it stand out among the numerous dress fabrics that exist today.

  • Its Uniqueness:

Hand-made Ankara dress fabrics are quite unique in their design pattern in that such a design might not be seen again. This uniqueness and rare nature of the hand-made Ankara dress fabric makes it more attractive, unlike in a case where a particular dress fabric with a particular is so commonly seen making it more boring and less attractive no matter how beautiful the designs may be.


  • It helps tailors and fashion designers to express their creativity:

The Ankara and Kitenge dress fabric helps fashion designers and tailors to express their creativity and skillfulness in making amazing designs. It gives room for tailors and fashion designers to form new styles of clothes which would have an advantage of the beauty of the dress fabric used in making it.


  • Unconditional use:

The unconditional and restricted usage of the Ankara dress makes it available to be worn anywhere and at any time. The dress can be worn to occasions such as weddings, birthday parties, and so on.


Different Occasions That the Ankara Dress Can Be Worn To

The Ankara and Kitenge dress fabric, when used in making a very nice dress, can be worn to almost any type of occasion or gathering, whether formal or informal. The amazing dress fabric can be worn to places such as:

1. To work and other official gatherings.

2. To church and other religious gatherings.

3. For wedding and marriage ceremonies.

4. For birthday parties or to visit friends.

5. For burial ceremonies, ETC.


History of Ankara: How Ankara Fabric came into Use in Africa and Beyond


The Ankara dress fabric has now also left the shores of Africa even with its African designs and prints. It can be found almost in every country in the world and its beauty is undeniable. It can be worn to a wide variety of occasions and gatherings.

Written by Emeribe G.


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