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How African courts glorify colonialism with wigs and gowns

The tradition of wearing horsehair wigs, perukes, 'a term derived from the French word perruque (weaving wig)' and gowns by the judiciary predates the 15th Century. In the 14th Century, during the reign of King Edward III, the accepted costume for nobles who appeared before the Court of the king was the robe. Later in the 17th Century, the gown was adopted together with the peruke (horsehair wig) as the formal apparel of judges and lawyers, a bid to differentiate the elite from the commoners.

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Originally, judges were required to wear purple robes on ordinary days, and red robes in ceremonial instances and criminal matters with the possibility of a death sentence decision. After the death of the king, however, they were changed into mourning gowns of black, a change that was later adopted by all. After half a century into the end of colonialism, courts in many parts of Africa still cling to this old English tradition.


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