While in Zambia in the summer of 2006, we (the girls), in order to be socially appropriate and inoffensive in our manner of dress, wore “chitenges” (pronounced chi’-tengies) over our pants whenever we were not in our tents.
Chitenges are a large pieces of material that are used as skirts, dresses, blankets, baby carriers, and probably a myriad other things. The patterns on these chitenges are regional and many of the prints are quite lovely…fabric art, really. The pictures in this post are a few of the prints on the chitenges I purchased (about 3 USD each) while in Zambia. These are not the chitenges I wore every day while I was there. I had three of those, and they are sort of beat up, have burn holes from when I got too close to the cooking braziers, and aren’t quite as pretty as these!
They are sort of difficult to walk in though, and we often found the edges of the garment getting caught between, or tangled around, our legs. I decided a good term for this phenomenon was to be ”chitengled”. This is a similar phenomenon to being “pajangled”, which is what I have learned it’s called when your pajamas get all twisted up around you while you are sleeping.
The women of many African nations utilize similar pieces of material in the same way. They call them by different names.
I am anxious to find out what they are called in Malawi, for that is where I will be going next summer when I lead a team there with Teen Missions!
Yep! I got my letter of invitation from TMI to lead the “Malawi Matron Unit” team! I’m mailing back my letter of acceptance today. What a privilege to be able to serve again next summer. To be able to return to Africa to do so is beyond exciting.
Malawi shares a border with Zamiba. I wonder if it will feel like I’m going “home” again.