A kiri yo woman

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A couple weeks ago the Krio Descendants Union held its 5th annual family reunion in Maryland. The event brought together Krios’s from across the US. Veralyn Williams, a young american journalist of Sierra Leonean ancestry caught up with some Krio women who attended the event and asked, “What makes a Krio woman”.The traditional dress of the Krio woman is the Print Kutuku & Cover Slot/Slip with heavy embroidery.

(Photo: Les Rickford)

Krio is an English-based creole spoken mainly in Sierra Leone not to be confused with Pidgin Enlish spoken in many anglophone West Africa. There is much debate on the origin of the word krio but some believe that ‘krio’ come from the Yoruba phrase ‘a kiri yo’ (we go-about-aimlessly full/satisfied) a reference to habit of early krio settlers to visit friends and family after church service.
Sierra Leone’s Krios are decendants of ‘the black poor’, Jamaican Maroons, NovaScotians, and recaptives who settled the British Protectorate of Freetown at the abolition of Slavery. Krios went on to become some of Africa’s first doctors, lawyers, administrators, and missionaries.
Some of this new class of African intellectual class would later move on to settle in Ghana and Nigeria as major players in trade and civil service. Sierra Leonean Krio’s who settled in Nigeria in the Lagos & Abeokuta were called ‘Saro’.
Nigerian designer Orire Omatsola’s ReBahia opening collection was heavily influenced by Krio ethnic wear.