Showing posts sorted by relevance for query kangas. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query kangas. Sort by date Show all posts


Kanga wrapping cloth

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Kanga, kangas wrapping cloth, leso, lesso

***** Location: Kenya
***** Season: Topic
***** Category: Humanity


The colour orange is very popular in Kenyan textiles, particularly among the Kikuyus and Maasais. Traditional wraparound cloths, called kanga, often use yellow and orange patters in the ever changing designs.

There is a famous book called "100 uses for a kanga" -- and there are at least that many, probably many more!

Text and photo : Isabelle Prondzynski

. More photos of kanga .

Similar cloths are the kikoi and the kitenge.

. . . . .

The words lesso and kanga or khanga have now been officially accepted as English words, and now they can be found in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary 8th Edition page 819.
Patrick Wafula


History of Kanga

Kangas originated on the coast of East Africa in the mid 19th century. As the story goes, some stylish ladies in Zanzibar got the idea of buying printed kerchiefs in lengths of six, from the bolt of cotton cloth from which kerchiefs were usually cut off and sold singly. They then cut the six into two lengths of three, and sewed these together along one side to make 3-by-2 sheet; or bought different kinds of kerchiefs and sewed them back together to form very individualistic designs.

The new design was called "leso" after the kerchief squares that had originally been brought to Africa by Portuguese traders. The leso quickly became popular than the other kind of patterned cloth available. Before long, enterprising coastal shopkeepers sent away for special designs, printed like the six-together leso pieces, but as a single unit of cloth.

These early designs probably had a border and a pattern of white spots on a dark background. The buyers (or more likely, their menfolk !) quickly came to call these cloths "KANGA" after the noisy, sociable guinea-fowl with its elegant spotty plumage.

Early this century, Swahili sayings were added to kangas. Supposedly this fashion was started by a locally famous trader in Mombasa, Kaderdina Hajee Essak, also known as "Abdulla". His many kanga designs, formerly distinguished by the mark "K.H.E. - Mali ya Abdulla", often included a proverb. At first, the sayings, aphorisms or slogans were printed in Arabic script, later in Roman letters. Many of them have the added charm (or frustration!) of being obscure or ambiguous in their meaning. If you find a motto that you can't figure out, ask several different Swahili speakers. You will get an equal number of different explanations! Some typical kanga sayings are listed on the following page, for your edification and enjoyment.

source : / Swahili language and culture

CLICK for more photos CLICK for more photos

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


cold July evening --
market women wrap kangas
round their necks

Patrick Wafula, Kenya, 2009


quick nap-
she burns her kanga
on a jiko

joseph nzilili
September 2010


Sunday afternoon-
she carries her child
in a leso

Sibiko Yamame


cold breeze-
mother covers her child
with a khanga

Mercy Amunze
June 2012

Related words



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Seasonal Words and Topics - List

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.................... List of Seasonal Words
from Kenya and other tropical areas


In Kenya, we have the following haiku seasons:

.. .. .. hot dry season
.. .. .. long rains
.. .. .. cool dry season
.. .. .. short rains

Some of the rainy season kigo appear twice in the course of the year.


.. .. .. .. .. Seasonal Items

hot and dry season
(roughly November to March, with January being the hottest month)

-- Buying textbooks
-- Buying school uniforms
-- Cassia blossom Golden Shower Tree (Cassia fistula). Drumstick Tree (Moringa oleifera).
-- Caterpillar, Hairy Caterpillar
-- Census
-- Christmas worldwide

-- Dry lips
-- Dust
-- Exam resultsKCPE and KCSE Exam Registration and Results
-- February rainfall
-- First things, New Year
-- Form One entrants and monolisation
-- Frangipani, Plumeria
-- Goat Meat, also Goats in general
ice cream
-- Jamhuri Day (12 December)
-- January
- - - - Njaanuary ( njaa and (Jan)nuary
-- Maasai Cattle (Masai Cattle)
-- Mabati shimmering roofs
-- Maize, Green Maize (for corn/maize see below)
-- Mango (ripe fruit)
-- National Drama Festival
-- New Year
--- New Year's resolution 2012
open shoes
-- Orchid Show, Nairobi
-- Papyrus and other grasses couch grass, napier grass, African star grass
-- Paying school fees
-- peaches, ripe peaches
-- Plums, ripe plums, plum fruit
-- Scorching sun
-- Smell of urine
-- Start of new school year Kenya
... ... see also Start of Schoolyear, worldwide
-- sweating
Valentine’s Day, St Valentine’s Day, Valentine
-- vest
-- Water shortage , drought
-- Weeds
-- World AIDS Day


long rains (roughly March to May)

-- Amaranth, Amaranthus leaf vegetable
-- Bombax blossom
-- First rainfall, imminent rain
-- bullfrogs Frog (kawazu, kaeru) worldwide
-- Easter
-- flooding
-- flying termites kumbi kumbi
-- Grass, fresh grass, green grass, young grass
-- Guava fruit
-- Gumboots, gum boots
-- heavy raindrops
-- Ibis (Hadada)
-- Labour Day
-- Long Rains Haiku by Bahati Club
-- Long Rains
-- Mabati roofs rusting and harvesting rainwater
Mater Hospital Heart Run
-- Mosquitoes in Kenya

-- Mud (Swahili : matope)
including: Brickmaking, Dry mud, Bukusu Initiation (Circumcision)  
-- Mudslide, landslide

-- Palm Sunday
-- Plantation activities
-- Pneumonia
-- Power failure, blackout     
-- Puddle, puddles
-- rain shower
-- Rhinoceros beetle , a scarab beetle
-- Sand harvesting, sand mining
-- Shoe wiper
-- Stepping stones, step-stone bridge  
-- Thorn tree flowers
-- UEFA league
-- Umbrella
-- Urine smell, smell of urine


cold, cool and dry season
(roughly from June to September, with July being the coldest month)

-- August moon
-- Avocado pear (Kikuyu : Mûkorobîa)
-- Beanie cap Kenya
-- Budget Day
-- Bukusu Initiation / Circumcision
-- Cold Dew (kanro) worldwide
-- Cold dry season, cool dry season   
-- Cold water

Datura suaveolens, Moonflower, Angel's Trumpet, trumpet plant
-- Day of the African Child (16 June)  
-- Dust
-- Euro Games, UEFA European Football Championship
-- Glove, gloves
-- Frangipani, Plumeria       
-- freezing
-- Hawkers for warm things glove, hot coffee, uji maize porridge, scarf, sweater ...
Irish potatoes (viazi)
-- Jiko (brazier)
-- July
-- Loquat, loquats - fruit
-- Maasai Cattle (Masai Cattle)
-- Mabati roors collect dew
-- Madaraka Day (1 June)
-- Maize, Green Maize
-- Martyrs’ Day Uganda
-- Morning glory, fam. Ipomoea (

-- Nairobi Bomb Day (7 August)
-- Nairobi International Trade Fair (end of September)
-- no meetings (August)
-- Oranges (Swahili : Mchungwa)
Referendum August 2010
-- Sunflower
-- Sesbania Tree (Sesbania sesban (L.) Merr.)
-- Shivering, to shiver
-- start of university year
-- Weeds


short rains (roughly October and November)

-- Aramanthus, vegetable
-- bullfrogs > Frog (kawazu, kaeru) worldwide
-- First rainfall, imminent rain
-- Ocotber rain
-- Flamboyant Tree (Swahili : Mjohoro)
-- Flooding in 2006
-- flying termites kumbi kumbi
-- Graduation Ceremony in Kenya
... ... see also Graduation (sotsugyoo) worldwide
-- sGrevillea tree Grevillea Robusta . Mgrivea (Swahili), Mûkima (Kikuyu)
-- Gumboots, gum boots
-- Jacaranda blossom
-- heavy raindrops
-- Kenyatta Day
-- Messiah for the Hospice

-- Moi Day (10 October) renamed :
. . Mashujaa Day since 2010
-- Mosquitoes in Kenya
-- Mud (Swahili : matope)
-- Mudslide, landslide

-- Nairobi Marathon
-- -- Plantation activities
-- Power failure, blackout
-- Puddle, puddles
-- Shoe wiper

-- School exams KCSE / KCPE
------ Short Rains and more kigo about this season
-- Stepping stones, step-stone bridge
-- Thorn tree - fresh leaves
-- Tipu tree (Tipuana tipu)
-- Umbrella

.. .. .. Glossary of Kenyan Terms and more Haiku Topics


............. Topics for which the season changes

-- Diwali (Devali, Divali)
-- Ramadan in Kenya
-- Ramadan ends (Idd ul Fitr)


............. Non-seasonal Topics

Ageing ... Getting old in Kenya. Grandfather, Grandmother
Akala ... Sandals
Aloe vera
Arfat, scarf of a muslim woman
Arusha Tanzania
. . . Brick making in Arusha
. . . Namanga-Arusha Highway Road

Banana ring, to carry things
Bat, bats . . . and the Mukuyu tree
Bisquits and cookies
Boda boda, motorbike taxi, motorcycle taxi
Boma Homesteads
Buibui, to cover the head and face of a Muslim woman face veil
Bukusu Culture, Babukusu People
Bull fighting, bullfight
Bunche Road, Nairobi

Calabash, calabashes, gourd
Camel, Dromedary, Kamel, Dromedar
Casuarina Tree
Central Park, Children's Traffic Park
Chapati, flatbread Chokoraa, chokora - "street boy" or "parking boy"
Coconut, coconuts, coconut milk
Coffee plant blossoms, coffee blossoms
Crickets, cricket

Dandora, Municipal Garbage Site Nairobi
Day Moon
Demolitions in Patanisho, Nairobi
Duck, ducks

Elections, general election 2013
Eucalyptus tree Fam. Myrtaceae

Fences and hedges
Firefinch fam. Lagonosticta
First things
Flame tree (Erythrina fam.)
Flies, Fly, Housefly, Fruitfly
Fountain (in a park)

Garbage, sewers, sewerage
Gilgil, town in the Rift Valley
Grevillea tree

Hell's Gate National Park

Irio (mûkimû)
Isukuti Dance

Jackfruit, fenesi
Jeevanjee Gardens and Alibhai Mulla Jeevanjee
Jua kali artisans

Kabaka of Uganda
Kajiado mission
Kale, kales, a cabbage (sukumawiki)
Kamba People A funeral in Ukambani
Kamukunji constituency, Nairobi
Kanga, kangas, wrapping cloth
Karura forest
Kasarani Constituency

Kenya Railway Museum Kukai August 2010
Kenyatta National Hospital,Nairobi
Khamsin wind Egypt, North Africa
Khat, miraa (Catha edulis)
Kiambu County
Kibanda hut, kiosk, stall
Kibera Slums
Kigali, Rwanda
Kikoi. kikoy - garment, shawl
Kiondo handbag (chondo, pl. vyondo)
Kisii in Nyanza Narok plains, Ogembo Street
Kisongo Market Tanzania
Kitale Town in Western Kenya
kitenge - garment

Koinange mall and street, Nairobi
Komarocks play ground and Embakasi
Korogocho slum
kuku choma - grilled chicken

Lang'ata - Nairobi
Limuru town in Kiambu West Distarict
Longido Hills
Lugari Forest

Machakos town, Masaku
Magadi, Lake Magadi in the Rift Valley
Maize (Swahili : Mahindi, American : Corn, South African : Mealies)
managu vegetable
Masai, Maasai, Massai ... indigenous African ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya
Mandazi, a kind of doughnuts ndazi (singular)
Marabou Stork, Leptoptilos crumeniferus
Marikiti Farmers' Market Nairobi
Market, markets
Matatu minibus
Mathare Youth Sports Association, MYSA Mathare Valley slums
Matuu town
Mavoko county
Mitumba (singular : mtumba) second-hand goods
Mkokoteni - hand cart, pushcart pl. mikokoteni
Monkey, monkeys
Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro
Mtumba (singular) / mitumba (plural) used items
Mugumo tree
mutura - Kenyans Saussage
Murang'a town
murram mud roads
Mzungu, muzungu ... person of European descent... "white person"

Nairobi City
Haile Selassie Avenue, Soweto Market, Wakulima Market, Thika road, Tom Mboya street, Marikiti market, Kawangare slums, Kibera slum . . .

Ngaramtoni at the flank of Mount Meru
Newspaper vendor, newspaper boy
Nightjar (Fam. Caprimulgus)
Night life
Njiru Market
Njiiru Plains
Nyama choma - roast meat

Passion fruit, Passiflora edulis
Pawpaw tree(Asimina) paw paw, paw-paw, papaw
Peace (Swahili : Amani)
Pig, pigs
Pine tree, Pinus Patula
Pineapple, Ananas comosus
Pokot people West Pokot and Baringo Districts of Kenya
Pomelo (Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis) Chinese grapefruit
Posho mill, poshomill -- to grind wheat, maize and other grains

Rift Valley
Royal Palm Tree Roystonea regia

Sewer, sewage in Soweto
shuka - blanket
shamba - food garden
Sinai slum fire, September 2011
Sisal (Agave sisalana)
..... Sisal and makongeni paths
Slasher to cut grass
Smoke and smog
Snake, Snakes
Sorghum (mtama) and milled porridge (uji)
Sowbug, a brown snail
Sufuria .. cooking pot or saucepan

Tea (Swahili : chai)
-- thermos container
Tilapia fish
Toilet, outhouse
Tomato, tomatoes
Trans-Mara region

Ugali and Uji, maize porridge
Ukwala, Muthurwa, Luthuli Avenue
Umbrella tree / Schefflera actinophylla
Upland rice

Voi, Sagala hill

Weaver birds (Ploceidae family)
Webuye Town
Westgate Attack, Mall Attack, September 2013

Wimbi, bulo ... Millet
Wood, firewood
World Environment Day (5 June)



Haibun . Haiku in Combination

Construction and Development

. Kiswahili Haiku


...................................... Other Tropical SAIJIKI

WKD: Trinidad and Tobago Saijiki


.. .. .. .. .. National Holidays in Kenya

l Jan -- New Year's Day -- International New Year's Day Holiday
> -- WKD ... : New Year (shin-nen)

Varies -- Good Friday -- Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
> -- WKD ... : Easter

Varies -- Easter Monday -- Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ
> -- WKD ... : Easter

1 May -- Labour Day -- International Day of the Worker
> -- see also : Labour Day, USA

. . . . .

Mashujaa Day

10 Oct -- Moi Day -- Established on the 10th day of the 10th month 10 years after the inauguration of President Daniel arap Moi as the second President of Kenya.
October 2010:
The new constitution scrapped Moi Day and replaced Kenyatta day with Hero's (Mashujaa) Day in efforts to celebrate the men and women who fought for Kenya's freedom .

20 Oct -- Kenyatta Day -- This is to commemorate the arrest of Jomo Kenyatta and the declaration of the State of Emergency on 20 October 1952.
October 2010:
The new constitution scrapped Moi Day and replaced Kenyatta day with Hero's (Mashujaa) Day in efforts to celebrate the men and women who fought for Kenya's freedom .
Jomo Kenyatta

. . . . .

12 Dec -- Uhuru or Jamhuri Day -- This is to commemorate the day on which Kenya achieved its Independence, on 12 December 1963.
> -- Jamhuri Day

25 Dec -- Christmas Day -- Christian holiday celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ.
> -- Bahati Haiku Club : Christmas
> -- WKD ... : Christmas

26 Dec -- Boxing Day -- celebrating St Stephen's Day and the second
day of the Christmas season.
> -- WKD ... St Stephen's Day

Varies -- Idd ul Fitr
The Muslim festival of Idd-ul-Fitr is also a public holiday and takes place on the sighting of the new moon at the end of Ramadhan. The exact date varies according to the position of the New Moon.


.. .. .. .. .. .. Annual events in Kenya

Apart from big celebrations that are held on Madaraka, Kenyatta and Independence Days, Nairobi is also the venue for a number of large international and national sports matches. Nairobi further enhances its cosmopolitan image by hosting a number of annual shows and

The Kenya Schools Music Festival is held in Nairobi in May/June and

The Agricultural Society of Kenya (A.S.K.) Show takes place at Jamhuri Park at the end of September or beginning of October. See Nairobi International Trade Fair

The long established and international Safari Rally begins and ends in Nairobi - drawing ever larger crowds.


Introduction to the

Haiku Clubs of Nairobi


More LINKs in the Kenya Saijiki

Getting to Know Kenya

Poetry and Literature of Kenya

Music of Kenya, by Douglas Paterson

Missionaries in Kenya

Wildlife in Kenya

Plants and Animals of Kenya, LIST by Allen & Nancy Chartier

Kakamega Forest Birds

Nature Kenya Organization


Editor: Isabelle Prondzynski


Kutoka Wikipedia, kamusi elezo huru: HAIKU

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Mitumba, mtumba second hand goods


Mitumba (singular : mtumba) -- second-hand goods

***** Location: Kenya
***** Season: Topic
***** Category: Humanity


As in many other African countries, second-hand goods are very popular in Kenya. They enable the wananchi (citizens) to wear high-quality and fashionable clothes and shoes at an affordable price, to drive decent cars and to obtain hifi or computers.

Most of the time, when we talk about mitumba, we mean clothes or shoes. These are sold in huge markets, such as Gikomba, where smaller traders can buy them wholesale in bulk as they arrive, split the contents of the sacks and sell them either in Gikomba itself, in the city centre or in the various residential areas around the city. Huge loads are also carried up-country to the rural areas for sale there.

A load of shoes being taken from Gikomba to up-country markets

Almost every Kenyan, whether rich or poor, owns several items of mitumba. Many of the clothes sold as mitumba are almost brand new and in excellent condition. Some could be remnants from large chains in Europe or the USA sold in bulk to wholesalers for resale in African countries. Many are clothes donated to charitable organisations in the West. These sort the clothes according to their general condition. The poorer quality clothes are given free of charge to refugee camps and as emergency aid. The better quality clothes are sorted according to type (men's / women's, skirts / blouses / socks / trousers / T-shirts / underwear, etc.) and packed into sacks further graded according to the quality of the goods. These sacks are then shipped and sold in Kenya (e.g. in Gikomba) without opening them, according to the goods inside and their quality grade. Most buyers are too small to be able to afford an entire sack, so a group of traders would get together to share the cost and split the contents.

There is a whole debate as to whether charitable organisations should be selling mitumba into African countries at all. These imports could destroy the national market for clothing, it is said. And it is true that during my years in Kenya, as imports of mitumba have increased, many of the smaller dressmaking and tailoring businesses have had to close. Others now specialise in alterations of mitumba clothes so that they fit their new owners. The more high-quality businesses have continued without too much trouble, particularly those specialising in African dress styles, as these are not in competition with foreign imports. School and work uniforms too have not been affected. It is my feeling that the import of mitumba is, on the whole, a good thing, as it enables Kenyans to dress smartly at a reasonable cost, provides many jobs in the informal sector -- and it even enables the original owners in other countries to give away their clothes and shoes in the knowledge that others will be able to benefit from them.

Clothes stall under a tree

Text and photos © Isabelle Prondzynski


It is mtumba in the singular and mitumba in the plural.
The word literally means second hand and could be used for clothing, shoes, cars, etc. -- it refers to anything that has been used and is being resold. The Government of Kenya recently zero-rated taxation on importation of mitumba ''to ease the high cost of living on the common man you know!''.

Andrew Otinga

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Read more here :
source :

Gikomba Market

gikomba or gikosh
is a second hand clothes market that started in the 1980’s as a result of space in retail market. the lack ofphysical space forced the more that one hundred traders to move to the area between majengo, karikor and kamukunji

The original settlers were allocated plots but with time as the market became more popular settled illegally…today there are more than 4000 traders
source :


a watchman bargains
for a mtumba jacket --
Muthurwa market

a seller shows
a high-heeled mtumba shoe --
mia mia!

(mia means a hundred in Swahili)

a street child picks at
muddy mtumba trousers --
riverside market

~ Dancan Omoto

a student catwalks
in her mitumba high heels --
beauty contest

a stall with
cheaper mitumba jackets --
I buy three

~ Catherine Njeri Maina

a student tries on
his mtumba shirt --
new smell

~ Andrew Otinga

abrupt rain --
pedestrians scramble for
mitumba raincoats

~ Dennis Wright

Mtumba shoes for sale
Photo © Isabelle Prondzynski

mitumba wholesaler --
he presses the sack down
to remove rain

~ John Maina

mitumba display --
she grabs the blue jeans
and quickly pays

~ Stanley Mutinda

sudden rain --
she shelters mitumba clothes
with a red umbrella

~ Synaidah Kalahi

mitumba stall --
a nursing mother sorts out
a shawl from kangas

~ Brian Mulando


I have worn mitumba clothes and shoes my entire life and one thing I know for sure is that mitumba are not just anything sold as second hand.

Yes mitumba are second hand merchandise resold in the Kenyan Market but there are several attributes that set mitumba apart from new or other second hand goods.

Mitumba mostly come from western countries and are imported in bales which wholesalers buy and then sell to mostly middle-class Kenyans in retail. They include shoes, clothes, bags, curtains, bed sheets.

But even more importantly, mitumba merchandise are of good quality (original) and that, I think, sets them apart from other second hand goods.

Its worth mentioning that there is a myth in Kenya that mitumba are cheap...Well, while most mitumba products are cheap, this is not entirely true. I know a place in Gikomba Market, the biggest mitumba market in Kenya, where a mtumba shoe is far much expensive than a new shoe in the shop. And some people appreciate mitumba so much that they wont wear anything new.

Mitumba goods, unlike other second hand goods, are very unique. What I like about mitumba is that you can get a shirt that very few people have in town. In fact, my friends and I refer to any new merchandise as "Kenya Uniform" because you will find many Kenyans with the same shoe, shirt or jacket.

For instance, early last month I bought a mtumba blazer and I have been to several tailors who've all told me that I cant find a trouser of the same material and colour to match the blazer because its one of its kind.

The word "mtumba" has lately been used loosely to mean anything second hand. Nonetheless, my point is we should not forget what "mtumba" really means.

I am currently an intern with The Daily Nation Newspaper and last week my editor sent me to Kariokor where Gikomba and Ngara mitumba traders had attended a public hearing arranged by Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA).

It emerged that the government of Kenya through KURA plans to demolish almost half of these markets to pave way for construction of roads

Traders openly expressed their anger and distrust on the government plan to compensate them after demolishing their temporary stalls.Please find time to read the whole story on my blog
The Nairobi Digest -

mitumba traders trickle
in the hall

mitumba traders
clap and whistle in unison--
Kariokor hearing

Caleb Mutua

Related words

***** WKD : Reference