MEET THE KAPULANA!
"THE Kapulana or Nguvu is a traditional, vibrant and multifunctional type of sarong made in endless colours and patterns"
THE Kapulana or Nguvu is a traditional, vibrant and multifunctional type of sarong made in endless colours and patterns, reports Ntombi Moeng, a member of the development practitioner’s team providing support to the Maragra EU project. The everyday kapulana is a two-metres wide waxed cotton fabric used primarily as a wraparound skirt. It is tied around the waist to cover up from the waist area to just above the ankles.
A kapulana does duty as a comfortable baby sling.
To the women of Associação Dos Camponeses 25 De Junho, an association of smallholder farmers located in Taninga, Mozambique, the kapulana is an essential and prized possession. The association is participating in the Maragra Smallholder Sugarcane Development Project (MSSDP), a project supported by the European Union and implemented by Maragra Açúcar, Mozambique. The project aims to support more than 4 000 rural smallholder farmers in improving their livelihoods through the development of 1 540 hectares of sugarcane and 462 hectares of food crops.
The women were eager to educate me on the uses of the kapulana: They protect garments from dust and dirt, are used as wraps in the cool evenings, as throws to sit on, comfortable baby slings, carriers of crops from the field or curtains for the home, door coverings or tablecloths, as audacious head wraps or to make more elaborate outfits for special occasions, such as a wedding.
“Kapulana is part of who we are. A woman must have something to cover herself with. Women in rural areas bend when they cook and work the fields, certainly you do not want to be exposed.”
Kapulanas are more than beautiful and versatile pieces of fabric. They tell the stories, carry the history, mark the occasions and record the ways of life in the communities of Mozambique and indeed throughout Africa. The Maragra Project is more than simply a smallholder development scheme; it aims to weave a relationship between Illovo Sugar and the communities into a shared history of enhanced livelihoods and sustainable development. Like the kapulana, protecting and covering but also rich and vibrant, practical and versatile.
Here the kapulana performs its primary function as a wraparound skirt, tied around the waist to cover up from the waist area to just above the ankles.