Kitanga and Kanga

Most ladies in Tanzania wear kangas or kitangas. These are large pieces of material that they wrap around themselves as skirts, shifts, shawls and head coverings. The patterns are wild and the colors are stunning. I notice them right away and take immense pleasure in looking for colorfully dressed women.

Kitanga Material

Kitanga Material

A kitanga is about 44 inches wide and about 136 inches long. It is longer than a kanga. It is wrapped around to make a sort of dress or shift and tied. The tag on the one I purchase for about $6 Cdn says it was 100% cotton. The material feels very smooth for cotton. It turns out it isn’t cotton – while ironing a corner of the material it got too hot and melted – I do not think cotton does that! I love it anyway and the green fronds remind me of a plant that we saw in the Serengeti.



A kanga is about 36 inches wide and about 60 inches long. They are usually bought in pairs and worn in pairs. The pair is called a “doti”. One kanga is for a skirt and the other for a shawl or “tube” top, or even to gift to a friend. Each kanga has a Sawhili saying imprinted on it.

"Wait for the key to heaven"

“Wait for the key to heaven”

I buy a kanga pair in Stonetown from a vendor selling to local women. Murray bargains him down to 4,500 Tsh, which is about $3 Cdn. The “pair” is two imprinted kangas on one piece of material, definitely cotton this time, and some cutting is required to separate them.

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