Dress in Benin

I promised myself to write a little about the dress here. We really wasted our time and money to bring so many clothes. Not only are most of them to heavy in spite of our efforts but we could have had them made for us here for a fraction of the cost. The Africans have some of the most beautiful fabric you will ever see. Some of the seamstress work appears to be of equal quality. Although we haven’t met her yet, the mother of Carol, the young girl who has her mission call, is an expert seamstress. Last night Carol had on one of the most beautiful dresses you ever saw. When we get some pictures sent the first thing you will notice is the filthy streets, garbage everywhere and the street is the dumping ground for all wash water and other unwanted things including dead rats. People live in the dirtiest holes you can imagine, but the amazing thing is not how dirty they are but how clean they are. Especially the women, but the men also are in general clean and neatly dressed. Also modesty seem to be the rule in spite of the heat. That is perhaps not always true for the very young and the very old however. You often see children with no clothes and older men and women sometimes go topless.

The usual loaded moto consists of a man in a clean yellow jacket, not a jacket really, probably just another light shirt over their regular shirt. On the back will usually be a woman impeccably dressed in an African dress or perhaps even a more western style dress, sometimes even a white blouse always spotlessly clean. How they keep them that way I do not know. Some of the elders and elder Southam also have had dress pants made for almost nothing. I suspect that Charlotte will come home with some beautiful African clothes – and then probably freeze.

Of course not everyone is dressed up. You do see grubby Levis and other clothes like you might expect but it is amazing how cleanliness in clothes seems to be important. We will try to get some pictures but taking pictures indiscriminately is frowned upon so we will have to work at that a little.

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