African Fabrics 101: Nsu Bura
By Ivy Prosper
Most African fabrics have a story behind them and this one is no different. Ghanaians call this fabric Nsu Bura (or spelt Nsu Bra), which is from the (Akan) Twi language in Ghana and means, waterwell. The pattern is said to resemble the ripple effect of water when a stone is thrown into it. In Nigeria, this print is known as Plaque-Plaque because the circular design reminds people of vinyl records. Meanwhile the people in Togo call this cloth Target Consulaire Gbédjégan, or Gbedze. This references the large straw hats that were traditionally worn by Royalty to protect them from the sun.
Created by Vlisco in 1936 by Mr. Piet, a Dutch fabric designer, the final design is said to be a variation of a drawing of a tie dye circle motif from 1926. It’s amazing how a simple design from so many years ago can still be a staple in African fashion. One of my favourite styles to see it made into is a flirty skirt. Easy to wear to any occasion. Just pick the right top and you can go from an office look with a blazer to a casual date paired with a tank top or t-shirt.
Yopa Skirt (blue)
Ghanaian designers like Poqua Poqu have a cute flared skirt made using a contrasting fabric as trim along the hem. Made in Ghana, if you live in Accra you could actually visit their shop in Osu. But, if you don’t you can get your very own through Kuwala.
Yopa Skirt (orange)
Do you have clothes with the Nsu Bura print? Let us know in the comments below!
Ivy Prosper is a lifestyle, beauty and fashion media personality & advocate for maternal health. Her work has been featured in various publications, including Canada Press, Pulpmag, What Women Want Today, and on her fashion blog Style & Culture. Follow her work at www.ivyprosper.com.