Black History Culture : Exploring Africa

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by cherryblossom, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/africa/explore/swahili/swahili_overview_lo.html

    Tale Of Tafaka (the Sahara)

    "One day, Binta and her two friends were returning to camp with their goats when they spotted a tafaka, an unusually beautiful lizard, sunning itself on a rock. The tafaka was heavily pregnant. Taking pity on the lizard, Binta offered to help with the birth. A few weeks later, a stranger appeared at Binta’s tent and told her that Tafaka was ready to give birth and had summoned her. Binta did not know anyone called Tafaka, but she followed the stranger. Instantly, the two arrived at a luxurious tent. Inside was a very beautiful, pregnant woman. Binta did not recognize her.

    It was, in fact, a djinn that had shown itself as the pregnant lizard sunning itself on a rock. Binta helped care for Tafaka and stayed with the djinns for 40 days, learning much about their powers. When she returned to her camp, word spread about her adventures. One day a handsome young man appeared at Binta’s tent looking for a wife. For a bride, Binta knew there could be no human more beautiful than a djinn. She summoned one to be the stranger’s wife, and peace was declared between man and djinn. That is why, to this day, the women of Aïr are as lovely as fairies, with hair as long and black as crow’s wings. They are all the children of djinns."
     
  2. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    The Kanga and Swahili

    The Kanga

    THE KANGA is a rectangle of pure cotton cloth with a border all around it, printed in bold designs and bright colours. 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. Kangas are usually bought and worn as a pair - called a "doti".

    Kangas are the perfect gift. Husbands give kangas to wives. children to their mothers, a woman may split a pair to give half to her best friend. Men can sleep in kangas, and often wear them around the house; women wear them everywhere; babies are virtually born into them, and are usually carried in a soft sling of kanga cloth. Kangas are extremely popular throughout East Africa not only for clothing but for their multiple uses; no-one can ever have too many!


    History of Kanga
    Kangas originated on the coast of East Africa in the mid 19th century. 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. They then cut the six into two lengths of three, and sewed these together along one side to make 3-by-2 sheet; or bought different kinds of kerchiefs and sewed them back together to form very individualistic designs.

    The new design was called "leso" after the kerchief squares that had originally been brought to Africa by Portuguese traders. The leso quickly became popular than the other kind of patterned cloth available. Before long, enterprising coastal shopkeepers sent away for special designs, printed like the six-together leso pieces, but as a single unit of cloth.

    These early designs probably had a border and a pattern of white spots on a dark background. The buyers (or more likely, their menfolk !) quickly came to call these cloths "KANGA" after the noisy, sociable guinea-fowl with its elegant spotty plumage.

    Kanga designs have evolved over the years, from simple spots and borders to a huge variety of elaborate patterns of every conceivable motif and color. For a century, kangas were mostly designed and printed in India, the Far East and Europe. Even today, you will see kangas that were printed in China or Japan. But since the 1950's, more and more kangas have been designed and printed in Tanzania, Kenya, and other countries in Africa.

    Early this century, Swahili sayings were added to kangas. Supposedly this fashion was started by a locally famous trader in Mombasa, Kaderdina Hajee Essak, also known as "Abdulla". His many kanga designs, formerly distinguished by the mark "K.H.E. - Mali ya Abdulla", often included a proverb...."


    Please read on this page more about the kanga cloth and its history
    http://www.glcom.com/hassan/kanga_history.html
     
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