My love affair with chitenge continues. I have been collecting fabric as is the family tradition, maybe not so much tradition as an affliction, addiction, compulsion.... Thankfully, I had a tailor/seamstress/artist for a mother and while to this day she curses my lack of ability to follow the directions as written, my protensity to ignore suggestions of pinning, basting, ironing and the like, I do manage to finish a project now and again. The boys are excellent piece-quilters and we often wrastle for scraps for projects. The traditional cloth we get in Zambia comes from all over Africa. Mostly we see chitenge from Congo (batik and wax resist), Cote d’Ivoire (wax resist and printed), Ghana (batik and dyed), Tanzania (printed) and Angola (printed). Whatever the fabric pattern and color, it’s always wild, crazy and begging to be put to use.
The fabric comes to the shops in 6 meter long pieces. The shops sell them only in 6 meter pieces for 40-80,000 zkw ($10-$20). In the market they will cut the fabric but only into 2 or 4 meter pieces. Once when out shopping with someone who wanted to split a 6 meter piece with me, we asked that the fabric be cut into two 3 meter pieces. The look shot back at us told us that the request was not going to be honored under any cirumstances and we had to do rock-paper-scissors to see who got the 2 meter bit and who got the 4 meter piece.
Funny that we both did “scissors.”