It began at the end of November when my friend Madalitso introduced Eileen and me to the wholesale shop where venders purchase the beautiful fabric that is the main style here. Searching for one chitenge quickly became a hunt for many zitenge…
This cloth is used for clothing mostly, whether it is worn as a wrap, sewn into a shirt, blouse or skirt. In my case, it even gets sewn into curtains that keep out sunlight and dress up a room to make it feel a bit more comfortable. Going shopping for a chitenge here is the equivalent to taking a trip to the mall back home. In the zitenge section at the market you will only find women, unless a man is searching for a gift for his lady or is a tailor looking to sew a masterpiece. The patterns go in and out of the market pretty quick and once one’s gone, it’s gone. Knowing this, I was motivated to find Christmas patterns.
When in the shop, I saw a Christmas pattern and bought one of each color right away—deep down I wanted a bit of Christmas in Malawi. With the hot weather, virtually no Christmas shopping frenzy that usually accompanies the aftermath of Thanksgiving, and just a few decorations, I was not really in the Christmas spirit. After this chance when the nativity scene caught my eye, I kept looking. Maybe I’ll use one to make a quilt, or just as a tablecloth during the season each year. It was fun to constantly be on a search for the zitenge, and therefore also, in search of Christmas.
In my search, I found that I just needed to create a little bit of cheer here in Malawi. This commenced through a day of cookie baking, Christmas carols and another day of cooking up a Christmas dinner and sharing it with the people here. Breaking bread in community and sharing life together brought the joy I was seeking.