Protective Style Challenge: Week 41; Chitenge

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I decided to wear one Chitenge in the style of a Duku. I had to fold it in half before wrapping it around and tucking the ends in.

This week, to cap off the month long theme of indigenous hairstyles, I’m wearing Chitenge headscarfs. Yes, I know, it’s not strictly speaking a hairstyle but we do wear a lot of scarves of scarves or ifitambala and what better way to show off Zambian culture by using Chitenge fabric.

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I wrapped this Chitenge around to create a sort of bun at the top of my head. The Duku is more traditional but I love the drama of this style.

Chitenge has been worn traditionally in Zambia for many, many years. It is our version of African print. A Chitenge is strictly speaking a cloth about 1 metre by 2 metre’s which is worn by women around the waist, kind of like a sarong. You may have noticed that in many of my past challenges I have worn outfits made using Chitenge fabric. I’m no shrinking violet so naturally I love the distinctive African nature of this cloth. Chitenge is no longer just for special events. Local designers have really embraced the fabric and create lots of outfits that are suitable for all occasions.

A dress by Zambian brand Kamanga Wear made using Chitenge that I wore a couple of weeks ago. It can be worn in 9 different ways.

A dress by Zambian brand Kamanga Wear made using Chitenge that I wore a couple of weeks ago. It can be worn in 9 different ways.

I thought it would be fun to shoot at a market this week. It has become common practice to create special Chitenge’s to mark national occasions and Mtendere Market here in Lusaka was buzzing with tailors creating outfits from Green, Orange and Red Chitenge’s all marked with national emblems such as the coat of arms or the eagle that is found on the Zambian flag. I’m not a big fan of wearing Chitenge’s that closely resemble our flag so I didn’t use any of those Chitenge’s for my headscarfs.

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Rows of Chitenge outfits in the background created especially for the Independence Day celebrations.

I have to say a big thank you to the folks at Mtendere Market who let me shoot in and around their shops. Quite a few of them stopped to ask if I was shooting for a magazine; maybe one day aye?!

Behind the scenes one of the tailors smiles as we take a shot. I promised him free promo so please head to Mtendere for your custom made designs.

Behind the scenes one of the tailors smiles as we take a shot. I promised him free promo so please head to Mtendere for your custom made designs.

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