Monday, June 29, 2009


Busuuti/Gomesi aka gomes is the official dress for women in Buganda. The busuuti/gomesi is very elaborate, with a square neck adorned with two buttons, pointy sleeves, full skirt, and a huge sash. There are many historical contradictions about the origin of the busuuti/gomesi. Contemporary history indicates that the it was originally made for Gayaza schoolgirls in around 1940s and 50s. Their first school uniform was a cotton sheet, which they wrapped around their breasts and tied to the waist with a strip of cloth. But the uniform often slipped off whenever the girls bent down to dig. Their missionary tutors thought it was indecent for a woman to expose her breasts. So, they had an Indian tailor sew out the busuuti/gomesi. Two decades later, the gomesi became a popular outfit at all traditional functions for the Baganda and later the Basoga, Iteso, Alur and Japadhola.

But some people, especially the Baganda, dispute this version of history and say the busuuti/gomesi existed long before the coming of the missionaries and that missionaries only improved the existing design made from bark cloth and changed the name to claim the discovery.

The women of the groom's clan line up for the procession

The men of the groom's clan line up for the procession into the future in-law's compound. The men are wearing Kanzu

She-goat given to the bride's parents

Photos by Sarah

The busuuti/gomesi is usually worn during festivals and ceremonial occasions. For example during the engagement ceremony Kwanjula, weddings and funerals. The bussuti/gomesi is worn more often as a day to day garment by women in rural parts of Uganda.

Young women prefer contemporary garments because the busuuti/gomesi does not enhance their feminine body curves and hips as they would prefer. To the point where it is alleged that some women stuff blankets underneath the busuuti/gomesi to enhance their curves and hips.

ALICIA KEYS The singer, an ambassador for the HIV/AIDS organization Keep a Child Alive, which provides medication, nutrition and childcare throughout six African countries, visited the Masaka Healthcare Center in Uganda, donning a "gomesi," the country's traditional dress.


Tracing the Origin f the Gomesi/Busuuti

Should we have a national dress?

Photo by Lukas Vermeer

Traditional Marriages in Uganda: Marriages in Buganda- Kwanjula

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