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.


About Lou (Linda)

Just a girl from Colorado trying to live life to God's glory with a certain amount of gusto! View all posts by Lou (Linda)

7 responses to “Chitenges?

  • helenl

    Linda, I am so happy for you. How nice to find out now – at such a wonderful time of year.

  • Rachel

    Yay Mama Lou!!!!! But I must admit, every time you lead a team, I get pretty jealous of the team members. 😦 Haha. But Malawi is gonna be so awesome! I’ll be praying for you tons!!! And you better be careful of this new group of poser children you’ll be leading…

  • Christina

    Mama Lou, How wonderful for you! to return again to Africa! I’m excited for the new adventures you and your team will embrace. Please keep us updated on your needs and prayer requests and know that I will remember you and the future MMU team in my prayers.

  • Christina

    okay your team may have to come up with some cow chears–mmu = moo. 🙂

  • Sarah

    They are called the same thing in malawi as they are called in Zambia… 🙂 Have a great time!

    Thanks! And THANKS! 🙂

  • Watermelon

    OOooooh, Malawi…cool. I have officially decided that I want to lead a team the summer of 2009. And I am looking forward to the choices. I love this blog post. I want to go wear my chitengis now. I just re-watched my Debrief video from Zambia…wow, what fun we had! I really miss being there, especially right now during the time of the year where excess is the norm…ugh, spare me!! Well, keep on bloggin’ on!!

    Heyyyy! I never got our video! Can you copy yours and send it to me??? And remember, I want you to help me lead in 2009! 🙂 — Mama Lou

  • Zikomo

    If you are in love with chitenges, go to the Rainbow homebased Care Centre in Chinsapo, Lilongwe, Malawi and visit the Zikomo Bags Project. There are hundreds of patterns turned into fashionable over the sholder bags. This project supports the community centre and its work to improve the livlihoods of individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Visit the Centre and check out the work if you have a chance. Or order your own bag at

    Zikomo! (Thank you!)


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