Colorful, beautiful, expressive! I’ve always wanted to learn more about Kanga; who wears it, why are they wearing it?
The name comes from the pattern resemblance to a bird – the guinea-fowl (‘Kanga’ in Kiswahili).
After slavery was abolished in East Africa (1897) and more goods were being imported such as kangas, they became a sign of wealth and social status.
And as the British Museum website puts it: ‘Today, kangas are worn by women of all faiths among the Swahili speaking peoples and play a major role in all the major life cycle ceremonies in a Swahili woman’s life – birth, puberty, marriage and death – yet they may also be used for the most mundane of functions. It is this ambivalence which makes kanga cloth almost emblematic of multi-faceted Swahili society.’
If you would like to read more: