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

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.


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)

Friday, 17 December 2010

Anna Luks2000 at Face of Fashion4Afrika.

I would start by thanking Ola Shobowale for inviting me to join other designers to take part on an exclusive event, Face of Fashion4Africa model contest. The event was held at the Africa Center in London's Convent Garden, on the 11th December.

All the models were so unique  amazing as individuals and also in what they were wearing.
The models had to compete against each other on four categories; Native wear which was amazing, evening wear, catwalk, and finally faced the firing squad (The Judges) for a brief interview.

It was indeed an honour to be invited to this event. I went there happily just to showcase my designs and nothing else. It was however, a total delight for me, when the model Samira Hashi won the contest and was wearing my design. Just awesome!

Photos by : Rob Sheppard