Sangwani’s chitenje (wraparound)
“My grandmother gave me my keepsake in 2018. I keep my chitenje in my suitcase or monarch bag. There is none other love like the grandparent’s love. The love is unconditional, and the favours are continuous. If you spend an hour with them, they impart you with more words of wisdom. It is such a privilege to experience such love and care. It is painful that when someone rests in the blossom of Christ, through death, and we can’t see or exchange words with them anymore. Chitenje is important in Malawian society. Ladies use chitenje for several purposes, which includes the following: when attending a funeral, wrapping yourself with chitenje and a doek [headscarf] is a way of showing respect.”
“Ladies sit anywhere in the yard when there is a funeral, so chitenje is vital for keeping the main beautiful clothes won from being soiled when sitting or carrying out household chores any day of the week. A lady needs a chitenje when wearing a knee-high length skirt or dress in the presence of the in-laws.
My chitenje reminds me of my grandmother a lot. I had to bring it to Ireland because my grandmother means a lot to me. I stayed with my grandmother in Malawi, taking care of her when she wasn’t feeling well. I have never used my chitenje; I keep it. My chitenje is essential because it was the first and last wrapper my grandmother gave me when she was alive, and I will keep it forever.
I always have both good and bad feelings whenever I saw my chitenje. Whenever I see my keepsake, I usually feel sad as well, most of the times because she passed on without saying goodbye to me. I thought she was going to do so as I was so close to her. On the other note, I put a smile on my face whenever I see my keepsake because she used to make great jokes that are still lingering in my head. Sometimes we would argue in a friendly way, just for fun with my grandmother. I usually laugh on my own when I saw the keepsake, and all her fun statements would occupy my mind. Sure, I had the best memories with my grandmother. Sometimes I laugh on my own, remembering all the sweetest memories we shared.”