It's not time to deck the halls with boughs of holly ... but here at Sand Island it is definitely time to bedeck the verandas with bolts of beautiful Kanga in the form of new cushion covers. Patios positively pop with a riot of blues and greens and reds and oranges and fat plum purple.
Kangas - lengths of fabric bought in pairs are, historically, the mainstay of traditional women's wear in Kenya and Tanzania. In the mid 1800s, women in coastal regions began buying handkerchief squares, called leso in Portuguese, from travelling merchants. They cut the lengths in half and sewed them together lengthwise to create larger rectangular cloths to wear. These 'leso' eventually morphed as khanga, possibly because a popular early print included white spots on a dark background, not dissimilar to the plumage of guinea fowl, khanga in Kiswahili.
In the 1920s, a merchant Kaderdina Hajee Essak (nicknamed Abdullah) in Mombasa, began adding Arabic script to the fabric. Kiswahili script followed in the 1960s and Kiswahili proverbs have sustained today as a sort of wearable, walking message with weighted meaning like, for example, Kunisalimia tu haitoshi , "It is not enough just to greet me." The biggest kanga store in Mombasa is - today - Abdallah's in Biashara Street.
I can't imagine a coast holiday without a kanga: to sleep in, to wrap around my waist with a t-shirt in the evening when it's too hot for trousers but you want to cover your legs, to wind around my head as a turban in the sea - because I wore it over a bikini as I walked on beach, sashaying a message seaside. To lie on the sand as I dig my toes into the warmth and watch the sea and the sky.
I bet you can't either? Wear one, lie on one or lean back on one drinking in the best view in the world ...