Africa: Kanga!

One of the best things about Samoa was the lavalava or ie.  A simple square/rectangle of cloth that could be used for more things than you can think of… We had a running list at one point of over a hundred things.  Everything from a skirt to a arm sling to a towel… and many many things in between.  The ie is still very much a part of my life.  It’s my favorite thing to wear.  I still come home from work most days and get out of my work clothes and put on an ie.  They’re perfect for hot weather, and are super comfortable.  Great for lounging, sleeping and the beach.  I have them in a bunch of different colors, patterns, materials – rayon for those cold nights and really thin cotton ones for when it is hot.

In Tanzania, there is something similar to the ie, which is a kanga.  I’ve included the youtube video below, which shows how to tie a kanga to wear, and some of the other uses (carrying kids, and carrying heavy stuff like buckets of water on your head!).  I’m excited to have something familiar to wear, and excited to have more fun colors and patterns to add to my collection.

The other very cool thing about kanga – is that they often have some writing on them that is called jina.  They are messages, proverbs, sayings, etc.  Of course, this goes well with my general love for words and quotes and things of that nature.  I found a blog written by a woman in Tanzania called Chick About Town – she gives a great description of kanga and talks about her love for them as well as the messages on them in this entry:

My Foray into the World of Kanga Sayings

There appears to be some other useful information on her blog for me, so I’m excited to do a little more reading there.  In the meantime, I’m headed to bed and will no doubt be dreaming of adding to my ie collection with kanga…




5 thoughts on “Africa: Kanga!

  1. Sita,

    If you are already a fan of wraparounds, then you are going to LOVE kanga (I think). Like the ie, you talk about, there are kangas of every thickness, and the uses for kanga are endless. In fact, there’s even a book called “101 Ways to Use Kanga”–watch out for it when you get to East Africa.

    Let me know what you think after you go kanga shopping for the first time! 🙂


    • Thanks Biche! I will definitely be on the lookout for all kinds of kanga (and the book you mention!). Your blog has been SO helpful with all of my planning. Are you based out of Dar? Any other suggestions of things I must see or do are welcome!

      • I am glad my blog has been helpful! For now, yes, I do live in Dar es Salaam. The best way to keep up with my recommendations of what to do/see in Dar is to ‘Like’ my Facebook page(, which I know you already have. 🙂 Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions on it. I, or one of “my fans”, might might be able to give you a good answer. When do you arrive in Dar?

      • Thanks again Biche,
        I actually am not going to be spending much time in Dar – most of my volunteer work will be near Kilimanjaro and then I’m hoping to do some weekend explorations when I can. I already know there will be another trip back at some point, however! (and I’m already following you on FB and twitter) 🙂

  2. (Thanks for the follow and the like! :-)) Kilmanjaro region is one of my favorite in the country, so I think you are in for a treat. I am a big, big fan of Arusha, and I think Moshi is nice and quaint!

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