The Boubou and Post-Colonial African Musical Performances: Ami Koïta, Bi Kidude, and Sibongile Khumalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fashion and music share a relationship as mediums used to project the identities of post- colonial female vocalists. When viewed from post-colonial African contexts, the boubou is an item used to express these identities. Using the performances of Ami Koïta, Bi Kidude, and Sibongile Khumalo between 1995 and 2013, this article analyzes their use of the boubou. My research shows that Koïta’s use of the boubou coincides with her innovative and controversial musical composition, argued herein, and works to express her “solo artist” status. Kidude’s garb demonstrates her attempt to show her Zanzibari and African artist identity. Khumalo’s garb expresses a South African and African musician identity and projects South Africa as a “new nation.” These findings suggest that when used in various locales, the boubou holds context- specific meanings that align with each country’s socio-cultural and socio-political contexts. While this clothing item has been affiliated with fashion designers and tailors and their contribution to the African fashion and clothing system, this article’s contribution is the role played by female vocalists. These women show their identities through fashion and music and cement the boubou’s position as an important item of the African clothing and fashion system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-441
Number of pages31
JournalFashion Theory - Journal of Dress Body and Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Ami Koïta
  • Bi Kidude
  • boubou
  • post-colonial identities
  • Sibongile Khumalo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


Dive into the research topics of 'The Boubou and Post-Colonial African Musical Performances: Ami Koïta, Bi Kidude, and Sibongile Khumalo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this