Showing posts with label African Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label African Art. Show all posts

Friday, 23 December 2011

MORE ON KHANGA



INTRODUCING THE BABY SLING


Me & my son in Khanga wear

If you will recall  my earlier post regarding my native cloth called Khanga. This was an unfinished topic as I have more to talk about the many uses of this cloth which brings me to my second topic :  "The Baby Sling".
For a baby sling, one can use any rectangular piece of cloth; mainly cotton which also depends on the climate of the native location, geographically. In East Africa, khanga or kitenge ( a much heavier cotton cloth) is used to carry babies/toddlers on the back.
The following site refers to several types of clothing used for baby slings around the world
http://awareparenting.blogspot.com/2006/12/baby-carriers-cultural-history.html

Historically, for an African woman to leave their young in someone else's care was unheard of  especially if it involved the mother being away from home for too long.  Naturally,  a baby is  brought into this world as no one else's responsibility, but, the mother's. However, if the mother is at home and has relatives around her, i.e. grandmothers, sisters, aunties and any other siblings, then yes; help is always at hand.

It is natural for a mother to bond with her child. Yet  in Africa and other parts of the world it is the matter of convenience to have a baby on your back. It is assuring for both mother and child and therefore,  peaceful. For those  around you this means the baby feels extremely secure and has the comfort of the mother  especially during feeding time.


Happy and Content!


Feeding time is a  big deal in any mother's mind; it is like a second heartbeat. So then the mother has much to consider i.e. whether it is okay to leave her little one with another person, whether she would be back in time to feed, let alone trusting the person who would take care of the baby. The answer will be 'what if' and that's where the khanga sling comes to action. Mind you, babies love this so much. The only time you will hear their voices is during feeding time. This intimacy between mother and child, ( I so definitely believe) has its physiological benefits for both individuals.

Not a care in the world!

We all know how hard it is to get attention from any child during combing, in this case braiding hair. The image below proves that the mother has succeeded  by having the baby secured around her body and feeding at the same time....... easy whizzy!!!


Manipulated!



Tribal woman in Central Tanzania


Beautiful Himba Mother and Child from northern Namibia 
(child not happy of an intruder ...go away, stop following us.....)



Ashanika girl from central Peruvian Amazon carrying her sibling



Korean Mothers doing laundry



Modern Sling -The Inspirational Story











Anna Luks
Web:annaluks.com
Twitter:@AnnaLukindo


Sunday, 8 May 2011

Khanga - The Wonder Fabric

The word Khanga is a Swahili word for guinea fowl, which are common in Tanzania. Originally Khanga were designed and printed in two colours.  According to my research, Khanga did not have borders then the two borders were introduced on the shorter sides.  The face of Khanga then evolved as time went by before reaching this present stage.

Growing up with Khanga, without being told, I understood that there is more to this magnificent piece than meets the eye.  Khanga is a way of life in East Africa but mostly in Tanzania.  The cloth  speaks a culture of silence.  The government and institutions use Khanga in all sorts of campaigns, be it political, educational , health or  romance.  These campaigns are usually in forms of images and illustrations; messages are portrayed in writings and in proverbs.

Here I am talking about the Khanga to London's AILTV in 2006.

Of all Tanzania's traditional fabrics, Khanga is the most versatile.  Its uses range from  wraps, shawls, skirts, loin cloths, baby diapers, bed spreads, wall hangings, aprons, not to forget the main Swahili use which is medium of communication.  Indeed Khanga is a wonder fabric, it represents art and beauty ; it is a Swahili custom and is almost mythical.








History

Tanzania is  on the East coast of Africa and borders the Indian Ocean on the east side, with the Zanzibar Islands as part of her east region.  The inhabitants of this coastal area are known as Waswahili.
Khanga was invented on the East coast of Tanzania, then known as Tanganyika in the early 1800's. The idea  came from  handkerchiefs that were brought  by Portuguese traders sailing on the East African coast stopping in Dar-es-Salaam and then Zazibar harbours. At that time Zanzibar was the dominant port in the region.  Portuguese traders brought handkerchiefs as part of their merchandise.  These handkerchiefs, also known as Leso, were very colourful.  The local women bought them, sewed them together to form Khanga.  Prior to Khanga, women wore black cotton cloth almost the same measurements as the Khanga.  Called Kaniki, this cloth was used as a form of attire.




Stylish Swahili Women in Khanga Wear (1800s)











A strong and everlasting history of Khanga, its prestige and value, is known almost world wide. The word has even been adapted in Brazil where Khangas are essentially beach wear. Khanga has indeed given East Africans a  strong identity and pride.  
As a Swahili woman myself, I am proud to highlight or just scrape the surface of this subject.  (To be continued)