Cloth of A Continent: From Kenya ………… A Khanga to the White House, USA

Above: Ozi village in Tana Delta. Little girl draped in a khanga. Copyright Rupi Mangat

Published: The East African Nation media December 2008

The ubiquitous khanga has made its mark, in no other place than the White House, the official residence of the American president.  And as we know, the new president-elect is non other than Barack Obama, whose father hailed from Kenya.   It may be coincidence but it’s a double whammy for Kenyan presence on the most powerful nation on earth.  The rectangular piece of cloth deriving its name from the bright-coloured guinea fowl, turned into a Christmas ornament, is hanging pretty on the White House Christmas Tree and as every proud Khanga owner knows, there’s always a message on it.  The message on the khanga reads ‘Watu Kwa Amani’ – which means ‘People For Peace’ – a very appropriate message for this time and season of the year.

Pure cotton kangas that are now collectors item drying on Pate island Lamu - copyright Rupi Mangat (800x533)
Pure cotton khangas that are now collectors item drying on Pate island Lamu – copyright Rupi Mangat

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