Kanga Stories Exhibit

Being a print fabric junkie, I was excited to hear that the Nairobi National Museum is currently hosting a 'Kanga Stories' Exhibition.  Last Saturday we headed over there to see it for ourselves and found it to be a somewhat modest yet nonetheless interesting show.  The exhibition encircles the second floor atrium of the main museum building and includes a number of unique kangas both vintage and contemporary in design.  I was thankful to find that English translations were provided for the sayings printed on each kanga, allowing me to more fully appreciate the wisdom and humor of their messages.  Also provided were snippets of the historical and cultural context surrounding each kanga as well as first hand "stories" from across the Kenyan population sharing what role kangas have played in their own lives.     

As a foreigner, the exhibition left me wanting to learn more about things that I imagine are common knowledge to most Kenyans.  I wanted to know more about how kangas are worn by women vs. men and among different tribes.  I was curious to know how and where they are manufactured.  And finally who is responsible for designing them?  This isn't to say however that the exhibition failed to provide any interesting information.  I guess what I'm trying to get at is that it wasn't quite what I had expected.  Nonetheless, what I did learn from the exhibit was pleasantly surprising and if you're looking to fill an afternoon, a visit to the Nairobi National Museum isn't a bad way to do it. 


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