Thursday, December 27, 2012

"Do People Wear Clothes in Africa?" or The One With the Fingers!

Showing knees and shoulders are big no-no's in Tanzania.

Tanzanians are also perpetually freezing apparently. Men wear parkas on days where I sweat in a tshirt. Baby's get dressed in snow suits for the first year of their lives regardless of weather. And women.... I'll get to women.

Did I mention I live in the dessert, and not the kind that gets really cold at night. This is Tanzania.

I get up close and personal with what women wear working at the clinic. This is what a typical woman wears on a typical day, at least while she is pregnant. First, underwear. Then these things called skin tights, that are basically elastic shorts. Then a skirt. Then a moomoo. Then a kanga wrapped around her waist and one over her shoulders, over the moomoo. But no bra. That would interfere with breastfeeding.

Kanga and kitenge are fabrics that come in all colors and patterns that women get made into clothes or wraps, etc. Some are beautiful, some are strange, some are rare, some you see everywhere you go. The most infamous kitenge pattern, in my opinion, is The One with the Fingers. For some reason, women here seem to love it! I see it everywhere! And it is terrifying! Bizarre!
I do not understand so many things about Tanzanian style. Or how they can feel so cold.

Tanzanians, most of the time, will pitch a fit if you try to open a window on a bus. The wind- its so cold!

One thing that is awesome about Tanzanian style is the shuka. If I were to walk around America wearing a plaid blanket, people would look at me oddly. Wear a plaid blanket here and people think I'm awesome! Maassai and similar tribes wear shuka, a different color and pattern for each tribe, as well as variations for men, women, and different age groups. I think PC decided to send me here because they facebook stalked me, and decided from my pictures that I would be the sort of person who would relish wearing a plaid blanket as an article of clothing.

Moral of the story: Be careful what you put on facebook.

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