Door: Kawira Mwirichia
“The “kanga,” the vibrant East African textile featuring Swahili proverbs, is widely known as “the cloth that speaks.” For centuries, women have exchanged them as gifts, often to communicate messages that would be otherwise taboo.
For Mwirichia, inspiration struck while attending a friend’s wedding in 2013, where she witnessed the “laying out of kanga for the bride to take to her new family — a gesture that the Kenyan queer community wouldn’t receive,” she explained.
Mwirichia puzzled over ways to use the kanga to “lay down and create a path to queer love.” Troubled by her country’s religious and patriarchal repression of queer expression as an illegal and immoral practice, Mwirichia wanted to make a statement through the kanga: Queer love, and queer stories matter. She asked members of Kenya’s LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) community to submit quotes about love which she later matched to her kanga designs.”