"The coming of the Arab traders and later the first Christian missionaries in 1877 to Uganda changed the social life style of Ugandans especially those who interacted directly with the foreigners.
It was the foreigners who brought cotton-made Suuka wear into Uganda. Previously, Ugandans, except those in north and north eastern Uganda used to wear bark cloth Suuka made locally.
Up to 1910, some mature men and women from West Nile, north and north eastern Uganda wore a thong covering only the private parts while the buttocks went naked – pictures available show.
Nevertheless, from the colonial pictures taken between 1880 and 1900 in Uganda show that it was only in Buganda where girls and women wore the bark cloth Suuka wrapped from above the breasts to the ankle.
While in Tooro, Ankole and Bunyoro kingdoms as well as Busoga region, apart from the royals, girls and women wore backcloth Suuka wrapped from below the breasts to the ankle, historical pictures show. Worth to note is that from 1840’s when the Arab traders first arrived here in 1880s, cotton Suuka were a nobility and novelty of the royal and the rich.
Nonetheless, it would seem that the Uganda’s famous Gomesi dress started evolving from the Suuka wear before 1900; if it was not imported here for the photograph of Kayima (Buganda Saaza chief of Mawogola) Matayo Kisule and his family taken in 1895 by Father Varangot of the White Father shows a woman dressed in a strapless Gomesi.
In the photograph, a woman standing next to chief Kisule is dressed in a Gomesi with flaps hanging around the hips. And the Gomesi seems to be fastened above the hips or inside the flaps. So, could what the woman standing next to chief Kisule be wearing of the earliest Gomesi design as it evolved from the famous Suuka wear? Did Gomez make Gomesi for the first time in 1905 or he simply modified?
What is clear though, is that in the 1920s, Gomez changed the Suuka from being strapless to having a bra size straps to have today’s look of a Gomesi. And in 1930s, the straps were enlarged and the following years Gomesi with sleeves and better designs were made.
Since 1940s, different Gomesi designs have been made. But its history has remained a mystery."
Full article: http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/PeoplePower/The-mystery-of-Gomesi-origin/-/689844/2421128/-/item/0/-/fjeq9f/-/index.html