Me and My Kangas


Here I am, at my front door, wrapped in my kanga; outerwear that binds me to my homeland. Pure cotton, long enough to cover the whole body comfortably, with a theme strong enough to enrich my soul, resuscitate childhood memories, and deepen my faith in the future.

I have a stack of these kangas, each one bold in design. They are works of art dazzling in their representation of an aspect of East African culture, where women and young girls wrap them around their bodies as skirts, head-ties, or nifty strapless dresses.

Lately, I’ve been pulling them out of my closet, one by one, indelible symbols of my youth, and purveyors of African tradition. They contribute to the power behind my voice. And I’ve been writing a lot lately; writing and rewriting, under the gathers of my brilliant prints.
And during each one of the solid forty days that have gone by, I’ve been making new habits stick, and I'll tell you more about them soon.

Mingi Love,
Mama Shujaa


  1. mzuri sana, mama! beautiful! you;ve just reminded me to take one to school today! x janelle

  2. Don't they always have some Swahili sayings on them?

    Very nice.

  3. Janelle and Our Kid: Asante. Yes, they do have Kiswahili sayings/proverbs. I'll make sure I include one or two in my next photo/post.

  4. And I can't wait to read those future texts. Many thanks. Your kanga looks magnificent.

    Greetings from London.

  5. Just stumbled onto your blog. I love kangas, had a number myself, long ago. I was married in Kenya (Nyeri) and lived there for some time.

    One of the Kiswahili words I loved was kabissa! and it was the hardest one to give up when I left. I kept swallowing it at the end of sentences for a long time. It is a great word, kabissa!

  6. Terrific to see you back to blogging! The bold colors and design are lovely. I’m pleased to hear that your writing is going well. Looking forward to seeing it in print some day.

  7. ACIL: Thanks much!

    Miss Footloose: Nice to meet you. Thanks for the note too. Kabisaaa, emphasis on the 'a' is a favorite with my folks back home as well. You are right, it is a useful word from beginning to end, yaani, Kabisa [completely and utterly]. I look forward to visiting your blog.

    Sarah: Thanks. I've been inspired anew lately, so I'm taking the bull by the horns and getting stuff completed!

  8. I'm wearing a khanga top today and I thought of you wrapped up in yours here. Hope you're enjoying the sun and the khangas they are a very nice combi.


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