Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania, is a country in East Africa within the African Great Lakes region. It borders Uganda to the north; Kenya to the northeast; Comoro Islands and the Indian Ocean to the east; Mozambique and Malawi to the south; Zambia to the southwest; and Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, is in northeastern Tanzania. any important hominid fossils have been found in Tanzania, such as 6-million-year-old Pliocene hominid fossils. The genus Australopithecus ranged all over Africa 4 to 2 million years ago; and the oldest remains of the genus Homo are found near Lake Olduvai. Following the rise of Homo erectus 1.8 million years ago, humanity spread all over the Old World, and later in the New World and Australia under the species Homo sapiens. Tanzania is mountainous and densely forested in the north-east, where Mount Kilimanjaro is located. Three of Africa’s Great Lakes are partly within Tanzania. To the north and west lie Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, and Lake Tanganyika, the continent’s deepest lake, known for its unique species of fish. Christianity is the largest religion in Tanzania, but there are also substantial Muslim and Animist minorities. Over 100 different languages are spoken in Tanzania, making it the most linguistically diverse country in East Africa.
Bright, colourful, blowing in the wind. Traditional cotton cloths worn by African women and bought by many tourists visiting Africa, the “kanga” (the Swahili word for guinea fowl) is a garment worn mainly by women in Tanzania and east. The khanga has been around for a long time and there are many opinions to its source or where it first started. Zanzibar could be the birthplace as it was a major trading port. But again this is not a proven fact.
The reason they called it “kanga” was probably because the first patterns resembled the plumage of the guinea fowl. Khangas are made from cotton and is locally produced in Tanzania and Kenya. Anywhere you go in Tanzania you will find these colorful garments for sale. Tailors throughout the country design and create fashionable clothing and accessories from the khangas and slowly this trend is moving to other continents like Europe where designers use African fabrics in traditional European clothing.
Kitenge or chitenge is an East African, West African and Central African fabric similar to sarong, often worn by women and wrapped around the chest or waist, over the head as a headscarf, or as a baby sling. Kitenges are colourful pieces of fabric. In the Coastal area of Kenya, and in Tanzania, Kitenges often have Swahili sayings written on them.
Kitenges are similar to kangas and kikoy, but are of a thicker cloth and have an edging on only a long side. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo are some of the African countries where kitenge is worn. They are sometimes worn by men around the waist in hot weather. In some countries like Malawi, Chitenges never used to be worn by men until recently when the president encouraged civil servants to buy Malawian products by wearing Chitenge on Fridays. The printing on the cloth is done by a traditional batik technique. These are known as wax prints and the design is equally as bright and detailed on the obverse side of the fabric. These days Wax prints are commercially made and are almost completely roller printed. Fancy prints are roller printed with the designs being less colorful or detailed on the obverse side. Many of the designs have a meaning. A large variety of religious and political designs are found as well as traditional tribal patterns. The cloth is used as material for dresses, blouses and pants as well.
A kikoi is a traditional rectangle of woven cloth originating from Africa, particularly along the east coast as far south as the Horn of Africa. It is most commonly viewed a type of sarong. As with all sarongs it is a single piece of cloth which is wrapped around the waist, and rolled over outwards a couple of times. However, to the people native to that part of Africa, they are much more versatile and ubiquitous. They can be used as a sling to hold a baby, towel, head wrap, etc,
Article Written byKucherlapati Divya Bharathi Masters in Fashion Management
National Institute of Fashion Technology – Chennai
Intern at TVC