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What to know about African fashion, the Zambian Chitenge

What to know about African fashion, the Zambian Chitenge
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Written by See Africa Today

Zambian chitenge is an essential fabric for Zambian fashion and culture. It is a multi-purpose fabric that comes in a variety of colours and designs.

First, Zambian chitenge is very popular among women in businesses and rural areas. They wrap it around their skirt while others rock a chitenge skirt and a matching headscarf. Chitenge truly defines a Zambian woman.

However, designers have in the recent past come up with aesthetic and fancy chitenge outfits complete with matching headwear.  The designs are appealing, especially to the modern Zambian woman.

In rural Zambia, chitenges dresses are the common attires due to their low cost and also considered to be part of the tradition where young and teenage girls are expected to wear cultural chitenge.

In the spirit of, perhaps, equality, designers have also exhibited men’s chitenge outfits ranging from trousers, shorts, pyjamas and shirts. The print designs which are varied and come in different patterns have in the past been used as a political tool where you find chitenges engraved with pictures of particular candidates or traditional art meant to push a certain narrative to the electorate.

Chitenge dress, Zambia

Images of a nice Chitenge dress, Zambia [Photo by Saddha]

Besides donning it as an attire, Zambian chitenge is used by women to carry babies on their backs. For this noble role, it is not referred to as chitenge but ‘Impapa’ or ‘Inguwo’ in the local dialect.

More about African fashion:

Namibia unique Dress: Interesting facts about Namibia’s Herero dress

5 Uganda’s traditional attire you’ll love


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About the author

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See Africa Today

Pharis Kinyua is the editor of See Africa Today. With over seven years of experience in digital media, he has a soft spot for African tours and travel. His drive is to tell the rest of the world what Africa offers, the best accommodation facilities, national parks, culture, shopping malls and best airline deals to travel to Africa

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