Tales from the Tailorshop

When three quarters of our year in Tanzania had already passed, we suddenly received the news that our aunt was getting married. The four girls of our group already bought or had dresses tailored for them over the year, and were therefore well prepared for the news in terms of clothing. For us boys, however, there was a little problem: Our outfits, especially mine, consisted mostly of short or long sweatpants and washed-out T-shirts. In the rare case that we visited the local church, we wore shirts and jeans.

With regret we had to find out that neither of these two styles of clothing was seriously suitable for a wedding. Therefore we had to change our arrangements. Jan had already decided at the beginning of the year, when we were watching a Tanzanian music video, to have a suit made of Tanzanian fabric, about the same as the singer in the music video had. Now this idea came up in him again and became reality. At first Jano and I weren’t convinced of this idea. But when we saw Jan in his new suit for the first time, we quickly decided that we absolutely needed one too!

Visited several kitenge shops, selected a fabric, bought it and brought it to the same tailor as Jan before. The first sight of the interior of the tailor shop made me feel a little bit confused: The majority of the shop was a barber shop. In a small room, separated by glass panes, there were several sewing machines on which busy men and women worked. It was there that I made my first acquaintance with Marietha Kikombe. She is the owner of the tailor shop and took our orders. Her exceptionally good English made communication easy and soon we were measured and back in the Noah, a public transport (comparable to a family van), on the way to our small village.

Just in time for the wedding, we were all wearing our tailor-made suits and could, in good conscience, be seen alongside our fellow volunteers. Since then we have received a lot of praise from Tanzania as well as from Germany for these very suits. But to whom does this praise actually belong?

The inconspicuous tailor, “hidden” in a hairdressing salon in the outskirts of Moshi, made the suits for us about a year ago that caused such a sensation.

At the moment, in exactly this tailor shop, several tailors are sitting with their trainees and producing the jackets that you can buy here in our shop. From the very beginning we had a wonderful relationship with Marietha and all our other employees and we are very happy that we can continue to work with them for a long time!

Tino