Kanzu is a Swahili word, you can call it “Omutega Nswera” in Luganda but the English word is Tunic, treasured by many men in Uganda especially in the central region, and was introduced by the first Arabs to Uganda.
Kanzus is also synonymous with the Muslim community and some East African Bantu communities and It is believed that the wear was introduced by Arabs centuries back when they had just come to trade. The outfit is also common among Nigerians. But here in Uganda, Baganda copied that dress code from Arabs after they came up with their own design owned by Baganda.
Here in Uganda, it started from Mende, Busiro Wakiso district, and in the palace of Buganda (Mulubiri). Then and now the main source of income in Mende is to toil tunic (KANZU). And it has two types Akatema Mbidde as a cousor wear and the main Kanzu for the ceremonies. The specific colors used to make it are white and cream.
We use a white or cream cloth and a thread to make up but by the time way back they were using backcloth to make it. tools used to make it are a needle and Crabb. it is hand made no machine to make a Kanzu that makes them different from that of the Arabs. it is designed in the four main Baganda clans as follows: Abaganda Wawu, Abaganda Gere, Abaganda Nakabala, and Omuganda here in Buganda, and Many kingdoms were copied from Buganda like Busoga, Bunyoro, and Tooro with that very that designs. see the named structure of the Kanzu.
It is usually worn during cultural events like “Kwanjula” which means introduction, burials, and clan meetings. The Ankle length tunic is at times mostly associated with prestige, power, and culture, and keeps secrets.
Ssalongo Buyungo a frequent maker of the outfit advises that though long, it should never touch the ground or trip the wearer. “Though ankle length, it should not be overly long that the wearer steps on it. The outfit should also be baggy such that it doesn’t shorten the walking strides,” he says.
Though not important to passersby, one should not put it on without anything underneath the tunic. Ismail advises that a vest or t-shirt under the outfit is suitable for absorbing sweat when it is hot adding that at no point should it be figure-hugging.
“Some people feel a little uncomfortable wearing the outfit over boxer shorts or briefs hence prefer to wear shorts underneath so that they do not feel naked,” Ismail adds.
Lately, men have been spotted in clothes of almost all colors some of them too fruity for our ancestor’s liking, but such disrespect should not be shown to Kanzus. The most common colors are cream and white. There are numerous occasions to wear Kanzus including wearing them for the weekend as you sit at your favorite beer joint as well as giving a visit to your in-laws.
Footwear to complete the outfit is mostly the wearer’s preference; some prefer open shoes while others will go for closed shoes, they should However be polish-able and sneakers do not pass. The most common material for these outfits is silk and cotton.
In Uganda, Kanzu’s are mostly customary made from Mende, Busiro Wakiso, and Kampala tailors.