waswahili

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Khanga/Kanga

Kanga is a traditional Swahili garment worn not just by the Waswahili (Swahili people) all over the Swahili Coast and African Great Lakes region. The origin of Kanga is usually accredited to Zanzibar (an Island in Swahili Coast,East Africa) but it also has Congolese (DRC) more specifically Eastern Congolese (Manyema) origins. Among Swahili women in the Swahili entrepots of the hinterland, and on the Swahili Coast and in Zanzibar, Manyema women and their fashions became intricately tied to, and invested in, what began as an elaborately patterned rectangular piece of cloth and eventually developed into the iconic cloth we now know as the kanga. Kanga came to symbolize the power of an African community with origins in Central Africa and embody notions of Manyema ethnicity. The creation of the kanga is intricately tied to the negotiation of a new ethnicity: an ethnicity that emerged after Zanzibari traders expanded their frontier into the Central African area northwest of Ujiji. [read more about Zanzibaris in D.R.Congo/Central Africa]

*Not to be confused with Kitenge, that’s a different type of fabric*

Something I love about coming from the coast of Kenya is that depending on how a particular person is mixed, we can pass as all kinds of things but we can recognize another Swahili person if we were to see them walking around. I’ve been asked if I’m mixed in America. I look like an (black)Arab when in Dubai or Qatar, and I’m always being mistaken for Eritrean or Ethiopian -Somali too but I will never get that-It’s cool but sometimes I get that stupid ‘You don’t look African’ shit then that’s when I get frustrated and I’m like bye
But overall it’s cool that we have such a blend of looks

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Illustrations of the Arab slave trade [Zanzibari/Swahili slave trade] in Eastern Congo

Image 1: Tippu-Tip famous Afro-Arab (Swahili) slaver with other Zanzibari Arabs, Afro-Arabs/Swahili slavers

Image 2: The source doesn’t give a description but this is probably during the Congo-Arab war since there is a white man on the Congolese side of the pond  (click here to read more about it)

Image 3: Zanzibari Arab slaver with enslaved Congolese people

*Don’t leave useless comments on this post, also non Congolese don’t comment*