dress code for Gambia is very important so you should
at least take some tips below regarding acceptable types
of clothing particularly when out in public.
Take along lightweight woollen jumpers or a jacket for
the cool evenings during the months of November to March.
Although dress in the beach hotels is very informal,
ladies should avoid wearing bikinis or going out topless
outside the grounds of the hotels or
modest dress code is advised in all public places and
you should preferably at least wear a sarong or other
wrap that comes down to your knees and cover your top
half at least up to the elbows though there is no need
to cover you head. In the hotels' resorts
and beaches you can wear a bikini as this is acceptable
but not out and about in public. Gambia is predominantly
a Muslim country.
interesting point of note is
that whereas European men find the exposure of the
female breasts provocative it is much less so in Gambia.
That doesn't mean to say women walk around topless though
it is not uncommon to see a topless woman working uncovered
in a village setting for example. Therefore topless
sunbathing isn't seen as such a big deal. Thighs however,
are provocative to Gambian males so do cover down to
you knees at least when in public.
As an overseas tourist, its best to be more conservative
than you would at home in the summer time. Men should
refrain from walking the streets bare-chested, as men
going around half-naked are mostly thought mentally
disturbed. As general rule for females, the more you
reveal, the more (unwanted) attention you'll receive;
it's best to wear skirts or Capri / pants as a second
option that extend to the knee or below, except when
exercising or at the beach. Above the waist, use conservative
judgment, and observe the how Gambian women wear Western
clothing. For example it is rare to see Gambians in
traditional kind of clothing for Gambian women and men
tends to be long and free flowing clothes. For women
they tend to wear clothes down to their feet as well
as up to their wrists. This is called a grandmuba
which comes with an under garment called a malan which
is a couple of metres of cloth which is wrapped around
the waist as an underskirt.
Such traditional apparel tends to come in a multitude
colours, waxes and designs. The essential point is that
such clothing should cover most parts of your body except
for the hands and feet. Ladies should cover their heads
with a headdress called a musorr or Tiko. African women
in the homes, doing chores or cooking,
often wear a combination of Western and Africa styles,
with T-shirts or other blouse plus a wrapper.
out in public, women are more often seen in traditional
garb (blouse and skirt from often brightly coloured
fabric, plus head wraps) than in Western wear, though
many businesswomen will wear Western-style dresses with
an African flare. As with men, young women and girls
are seen in American-style clothing more often than
the older ladies do. For special occasions, such as
weddings or naming ceremonies,
both men and women usually abandon the plain cotton
and opt for African clothing made from beautifully coloured
and embroidered fabric, sometimes interwoven with strands
of glimmering threads.
in line with the Muslim faith many men tend to wear
the Kaftan (pronounced Haftan) which is worn in a very
similar way to the grandmuba. It is a full-dress, ankle-length,
long-sleeve clothing which is also known as the fataro,
jalabe or shabado. A variation of this is the 3 piece
suit called nyeti abdu which comes with trousers called
a chaya or the waramba. Such dress for men is very often
embroidered in elaborate gold coloured thread on the
chest area and sometimes the end of the sleeves and
back area. This male attire is topped off with a skull
cap which is also usually embroidered in elaborate designs
along the rim.
African men are most often seen in Western-style clothing,
especially the younger crowd, but there are some that
always wear African style clothing of pants with matching,
lengthy top, called a Haftan. Many males wear a Haftan
or waramba (a more loose-fitting robe) on Fridays, dressing
up for the customary visit to the mosque. One of the
most notable things about men’s fashion is the colour
of the clothing. While few American males would feel
comfortable in magenta or baby violet, clothing for
men is perfectly acceptable in any colour in The Gambia,
pastels and all shades of pink not withstanding. Before
such clothing can be worn it is usually waxed and beaten
with wooden mallets to create a stiff shiny cloth.
Schoolchildren wear uniforms to classes, whether they
receive a private or public education—girls in dresses
and boys in shirt and shorts, both with the name of
their school featured on a breast pocket.
come in a large variety of styles and patterns and is
akin to a work of art. The styles come by the names
jerreh, duni-bally, armandija, berti and so on. Traditional
hairstyles of the Jola tend
to include beads and other jewellery tied into the hair
itself. Hair extensions are de rigueur for most young
women who will often be seen without any headdress.
Rasta and straight hair extensions are the most popular
among women and can be found for sale in cosmetic shops,
by street hawkers and in some tailor's shops.