News Brief

In Photos: Stunning Portraits of Zanzibaris Donning the Classic Kofia

An intimate look at the brimless hat that makes Zanzibari men and boys look effortlessly hip and cool in photos.

OkayAfrica caught up with award-winning documentary photographer, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, of bi-annual journal Mfon: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora, who recently worked on projects in Zanzibar, Tanzania. While taking the beautiful enclave of a city in, Barrayn was captivated by the kofia—a brimless hat you'll often see worn by boys and men all along the Swahili coast—and had to capture them portrait style.

"Even though I don't consider myself a fashionista, I'm Muslim and I've always been tuned into how modesty and fashion play out in Islam and also how it varies from community to community. Also, I travel a lot so I always pay attention what the local or regional Islamic fashions are in that area or country," Barrayn says, explaining what drew her to photograph portraits featuring the kofia.

"I've spent a lot of time in West Africa working on photo projects so, I've gotten used to the knit cotton kufis. It's the one that was made popular by the independence activist, Amílcar Cabral of Guinea Bissau back in the 60s. I've also seen a lot of the varied styles of kufis in Nigeria. But when I was on Unguja Island in Zanzibar, I really fell in love with the colors and the way the men would fold or shape their kofia. I loved that the kofia was worn with the kanzus (the long flowing robes) to sportswear, jeans and other casual dress. It just fit and was so decidedly Zanzibari."

She continues:

"It's really interesting because all over the Swahili coast, the kofia is worn, and that is because that region was once part of the Omani empire until the Zanzibari Revolution of 1964. In fact, in Oman, you can still see the colorful Swahili influence in the clothing and headgear, like the kofia, for instance."

Barrayn also notes how much the kofia was a touch of style that made a whole look much more elegant and can pull an entire look together. With her photo essay below, she hopes to tell a fashion story about Muslim men that showcases an elegance in their style through this particular headdress. "I also want to show one of the many variations of culture-based style in the Islamic world," she adds.

Take a look at these stunning portraits featuring the kofia below.


Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.

This photo essay was supported by the African Great Lakes Reporting Fellowship with the International Women's Media Foundation.

Audio
Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

6 South African Rap Albums and EPs to Stream Right Now

Stream these new South African releases for a dose of nothing but beats and rhymes.

Hip-hop is always changing. While the melodic style of rapping, which is now a standard in hip-hop, has led to a generation of innovative artists who aren't bounded by the traditional rules of rap, hip-hop fans will never tire of hearing rappers who rely mostly on their raps to catch the listener's attention.

If you are a fan of clever wordplay, impressive cadences and flows and the raw expression of rappity rap, then South Africa always has something for you. Such rappers may not be on the roster of major and influential indie labels, but they exist and are releasing music regularly.

From the clinical raps of Ginger Trill to the playful delivery of SimmySimmyNya, and everything in between, we bring you a list of six South African rap albums and EPs for your headphones.

Editor's note: This list is in no particular order.


Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Namibian Government Rejects Germany's Offer of 'Reparations'

The Namibian government has rejected the recent offer of 'reparations' from its former German coloniser for the mass killings of the Herero and Nama people.