Life, Wanderings and Labours in Eastern Africa by Charles New download in iPad, pdf, ePub
The pindo includes the outer margin, usually black in colour, and the inner band, which is double-bordered and may have a plain, textured, or patterned background. Due to its simplicity in wearing, kanga if often used in political rallies as a form of identity for people supporting a particular political party. Troughear thinks that the claim that kangas originated in Zanzibar is not correct. The background of the inner band usually matches the colours to be found on the central motif. The blue and black version is more popular in Mombasa, Kenya.
Apart from its protective and decorative role, kanga is all about sending the message. The version provided above by Hanby and Bygott is just one version.
Kanga and Politics Just like the way campaign managers in western elections print t-shirts for sending their messages to the voters, kanga is an important tool for mobilizing people in East Africa. For example, most of the kangas with mottos are made in Kenya, while those commemorating social or political events are more common in Tanzania. When words are difficult to articulate with a mouth, inscribe them on kanga and wait for the results.
Whereas t-shirts apply equally well to men and women, kanga is something more appealing to women. Kanga has also been used to mobilize people in public health campaigns as well as creating awareness to particular development projects. Even today, you will see kangas that were printed in China or Japan. It generally comes in red and black or blue and black colours.
Early this century, Swahili sayings were added to kangas. Husbands give kangas to wives. The leso quickly became popular than the other kind of patterned cloth available. Its function is probably to provide support to the inner parts of kanga as well as to provide a clear distinction between the outer and the inner regions. The Kanga is still evolving.
If you find a motto that you can't figure out, ask several different Swahili speakers. For example, a fruit, a flower, a boat, or a bird could mean good upbringing or just the appreciation of beauty. If however, the mji has no conspicuous figure the local name could be derived from the jina of the kanga. As the story goes, some stylish ladies in Zanzibar got the idea of buying printed kerchiefs in lengths of six, from the bolt of cotton cloth from which kerchiefs were usually cut off and sold singly. The Anatomy of Kanga Kanga is not just like any other rectangular piece of cloth, no matter how colourful it may be.
There are noticeable regional differences. Anthony John Troughear, an Australian journalist who lived and worked in Kenya, has another version. Kangas are the perfect gift. It is as long as the span of your outstretched arms and wide enough to cover you from neck to knee, or from breast to toe. Like the T-shirt, but incomparably more elegant and useful, it is a valuable medium for personal political, social and religious expression.
Although cheap in price, the power of kanga in the Swahili culture is unimaginable. Mji occupies the most important area of kanga but save for its colours and the art, its popularity may be overshadowed by the context of the jina. The jina is usually printed in uppercase letters in colours that match the central motif and most likely on white background to improve its readability.
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