Tuesday, September 27, 2011
A staple article of clothing for a Malawian woman is a chitenje. This is a brightly colored piece of fabric that is sold in 2 meter increments and worn over a regular skirt. This outer, wrap around skirt is used as an apron, a basket, a baby carrier, as well as many other uses. I recently purchased a chitenje from the market and took it to a tailor where I had an ankle length skirt made. I wore the skirt to work today and it was so nice to wear something that was authentic. I loved the compliments I received from coworkers and will definitely keep an eye out for more fabric. My favorite compliment however; came from one of my students. He is Malawian and when he walked in, he gave me a hug and said I looked pretty. He then proceeded to tell me that I look like a beige Malawian. I absolutely loved it and couldn't believe that a first grader had said this! It made me smile and reminded me of the importance of culture. I know he had no idea how much this comment meant to me (not only for the smile) but because it made me feel so thankful for the love I feel from those around me. Malawi is known as the warm heart of Africa and I am finding that to be true through everyone that I meet. I am truly blessed to be able to experience the kindness and love of the people here. I know my first chitenje was used to make a skirt that I can actually zipper and wear to teach in. I will try and work my way up to just wrapping the fabric around me and maybe even putting it to use like the amazing women of Malawi do. For now, I will smile whenever I wear my skirt for it gave me the title of "beige Malawian!"