Chitenge is an African fabric similar to a sarong and is worn by women and girls, wrapped around the chest or waist, over the head as a headscarf, or as a baby sling. Where I come from in the far north of Malawi women and girls wear chitenges every day.
I often wonder if a chitenge is a symbol of the African woman's oppression where I recall as a child my grandmother threatening to beat us when we walked around our house in jeans, 'inappropriately dressed' she would say...Malawi for a long time and certainly in her time banned the wearing trousers and short skirts were unthinkable to boot!
I have enjoyed capturing women near my village Ekwendeni going about their daily lives adorned in their chitenges...
The chitenge, whether a symbol of oppression or not plays another role of signifiiance, it levels the playing field to some extent among women...Some wear makeup and beautiful designer dresses under their chitenges and others wear their worn clothes and are relieved to cover them up with the more affordable chitenge which is replaced more often than a new wardrobe.