Buche has once again surprised me! Just further proof that there is always something new to learn about people.
This morning after finishing a meeting, I asked him to take to me to a fabric store where I could make a purchase of a specialty fabric which I wanted to get as a present to take to Lawrence’s mother. The particular fabric that I was intent on purchasing is a traditional cotton fabric known as ‘German Print’ or ‘Shweshwe’. This fabric is used to create traditional dresses worn for weddings, traditional ceremonies, important occasions and even every day wear.
It originally came in an indigo blue color and was brought to Africa by Europeans in the 1800’s with it’s manufacturing taken place in Germany, thus the name ‘German Print’. The introduction of blue print to South Africa was with the German settlers in 1858 / 9 who settled in the Eastern Cape and Natal. The demand from the German Settler woman prompted traders to import this fabric from Europe, thus during the nineteenth century the Xhosa women gradually replaced their animal skin garments with newly available cotton ones. The “school” woman, who were educated at mission stations, started to dress in European style dresses to cover their bodies, enjoying the blue hue the indigo gave their skin.
The fabric is still incredibly popular and I had it on very good advice that it would be a perfect gift to take Mma Dingwa. So off Buche and I went to purchase it. Once we arrived at the fabric store recommended by Jetske, Buche surprised me by coming into the store with me! I never expected him to join me on my shopping expedition. I was further surprised once in side of the vast store of his knowledge of the fabrics. He quickly got someone to assist us and we immediately headed to a large table which contained the tradition fabric in the now traditional colors of blue, red and chocolate brown.
It was like I died and went to heaven. I love fabrics and textiles! Having a table full of to select from was incredibly. With Buche’s assistance I selected what we both agreed was a perfect pattern in indigo blue. See for yourself:
Like the true gentleman that he is he even carried my purchase for me which also included some for my mother as well. And as we were exiting the parking lot, he further astounded me by telling me that the fabric needs to be hand washed before working with so the final product comes out beautiful and supple.
You see, the original Shweshwe is very stiff when new because in the history of the fabric it had to endure the long sea voyage from the UK to South Africa, so starch was used to preserve the fabric from the elements and gave it a characteristic stiffness. After washing, the stiffness disappears to leave behind a beautiful soft cotton fabric.
So once again he simply proved what an amazing man that he is and how lucky I am to have both him and Lawrence in my life. Both of them take such fantastic care of me including helping me navigate the unfamiliar cultural landscape and treating me like the ‘Princess’ that I am always being referred to since coming here. I am one incredibly lucky woman.
On another note, I also paid a visit to Liquorama to purchase a bottle of whiskey for Lawrence’s dad. Once again I proved that I simply can dance any where and anytime with out even realizing it. I was the only customer in the store at the time and incredible African music was playing while I was being assisted with selecting my purchase. To be honest with you I didn’t even realize like that I was bopping along to the beat until I was at the cash register and realized that all eyes were on me. Everyone was grinning and the manager even said to me that it was very obvious that I was loving the music. The lovely young man who had assisted me with my selection and purchase carried my bag to the door for me and told me that the song was from the DRC and being sung by a Motswana. Obviously they were very pleased to see me so enthusiastically enjoying local music. What can I say! I am in the land of great music and enjoying every minute of it.