Princess Hando

PRINCESS HANDO: Promoting the Mijikenda Culture

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Who is Princess Hando?
Princess Hando is a Mijikenda lady who loves her culture. Hando is the traditional skirt worn by Mijikenda women. The name `hando’ was chosen so as to promote the attire since not many people fancy it or know about it. My official attire as Princess Hando is the Hando. My real name is Glory Chiru Bojo.

What inspired you to contest in Princess Hando?
I was inspired by the love for my culture and I knew that the contest would give me a platform to learn and promote my tradition.

What is unique about the skirt? Can any woman wear it?
This skirt is symbolic. It is the identity of a mijikenda lady. There are different types of the skirt won by different people. For instance, a young lady is supposed to wear the white Hando. A red Hando is mostly won by the elderly. A blue one is won by traditional medicine women.

The Hando is for the Mijikenda but it is not only restricted to them. Any person who visits the community can be dressed or gifted this attire to welcome them and be part of the Mijikenda.

Princess Hando
Courtesy: Princess Hando
What role do you play as the Princess Hando? Do you organise events?
As Princess Hando, I have a duty to promote the Hando at the same time promoting positive culture for the benefit of the community. I do partner with various organizations and people in organizing cultural events. I also have a duty to be a role model and mentor to young girls in school to ensure that the girl child stays in school and fight early teenage pregnancies.

How long does one take, as a Princess Hando? What opportunities have arisen for you through your journey as the current holder?
One reigns for a period of one year. I’m glad that I have mingled with people who share same cultural dreams as me. I have also been invited to seminars and conferences on culture. Furthermore, I am learning on how to organize cultural events and how to use culture as a tool to create impact to my community.

Have you faced any challenges being a princess hando? And what achievements have you made so far in the given role?
Challenges are so many. There was a time I was chased away because I was wearing a hando and branded a witch. I have gone to places where I have had to sleep hungry and walk for kilometres just to achieve my goals. There are times I walked into offices to seek for assistance and no one wanted to listen to me. I have worked on a zero budget and even sacrificed my meals so as to push the goals to the limit.

What stands out about the Mijikenda culture?
Mijikenda culture is rich and comprises of nine subtribes that share similar traditions but do vary sometimes. The Mijikenda still practice their culture even though westernization has changed so many aspects. It is for this reason that I strive to document and tell the world about the culture so that it is not forgotten.

Still on this, I promote my culture to my people so that they can embrace and own it since many have been brainwashed and made to think that anyone who follows their culture is a witch or still living in the stone age era. In order for me to achieve my goals, I do not only promote this culture to my people alone but share it worldwide. I have visited a few countries with the same mission and I’m still on a tour of my country, county by county to let people know about us.

Princess Hando
Courtesy: Princess Hando
Most people view beauty peagants as mere beauty and no much to offer. How do you undo this notion?
Beauty with brains is what we advocate for as Princess Hando. As I said earlier, I have a duty to promote girlchild education so this might not be a beauty pageant as such but we advocate for good values that will impact the community positively.

What is the staple food for the Mijikenda? Are the Mijikenda very different from the other coastal tribes?
The staple food is ugali made from maize flour with vegetables or the finger-licking meat “kadzora” from rats. Mijikenda is a different culture, however, nowadays it borrows a lot from the Swahili, Islam and Christianity.

In terms of cultural practices, are there some negative ones that you condemn as a cultural ambassador?
There are so many negative cultural practices that hinder development. For example, Kutsuha Chifo, this is when someone’s husband dies and rituals are done which at some point the woman is supposed to sleep with a stranger.

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