Soul Sling – Chitengi Evolved – Africa Invoked

The greatest expression of love is holding and carrying your baby.  For centuries, humans have carried their children much of the day—until the invention of the stroller and the portable car seat.  It is the most natural thing to carry a baby close to your body. A child needs physical contact and must be held for proper physical and mental development.  In today’s society, we must do everything we can to help our children be well adjusted. A baby sling or carrying cloth is the most natural way to facilitate these needs.  In addition, parents who carry their children create a special bond between them and the child that will last forever. We have used slings extensively and I recommend them to every mother and father.                                        
– Eckhard Rolz PhD. Idaho


‘Chitengi.’ That’s what My Friend John (MFJ), said when he saw the Soul Sling.

‘Eh?’ Said I.

Once, John lived in Zambia where chitengis were an obligatory part of any native woman’s wardrobe. He explains:
Two meters long, brightly printed, breathable, and unstructured, the chitengi is an uber-adaptable cloth that functions as a skirt (showing legs in public is a cultural no-no in Zambia), a dress, a fetching complement to any top, a maternity dress, and a baby carrier in a land where babywearing is a way of life now, as it has been for generations. For little girls, mothers, and grandmamas, the chitengi is a constant companion to a native woman’s life journey. John speculates that it can even be a funeral shroud. But, having shown the utility and beauty of this African fashion, he does not dwell on this final use. So considerate, MFJ.

What prompted his association of the chitengi with the Soul Sling? The wraps, he explains, imitate the chitengi’s use as a baby sling. Somewhat more structured than the original, the “Soul Sling is, nevertheless, pliable and accommodating to different body shapes and wearing preferences. Available in linen, cotton, or cotton jacquard, they are eminently breathable and cool – an important consideration for Singaporeans. While not exactly African-inspired prints, the Soul Sling Wraps come in colorfully-named colours like Sumac, Harmony, Heal, Moonstone, Natura, Midnight Masquerade, Carnival, Kiro, Maze Pride, and more. And that’s just the wraps.


Too little choice? Too easy to decide? Then move into the Anoona (it means ‘one without flaws’) range. We’re talking more structure here with a stiff panel and backpack straps. Offering more color choice and carrying possibilities, your choice is going to be even more complicated. Given the attractive options, however, the babywearer can’t go far wrong. The Anoona’s offer options such as back and hip carrying, as well as front-facing. Of course the wraps can also be configured to enable front-facing.

When I mentioned and/or showed the Soul Sling to others, front-facing often entered the conversation. Advocates emphasise the experiential value of curious babies learning the world like their elders – head first and straight on. Contrarians point out the delicacy of not-yet-fully-formed hips connected to unsupported dangling legs. Infant spines are also a part of the conversation. This is a one controversy that will avoid, thank you very much. For a scientific, unbiased tour of the question, though, I recommend The Fuss about Facing Out. 


It concludes:
In summary, facing out can be a great deal of fun for parent and child, if done sensitively and thoughtfully, with consideration to the child’s anatomical development and comfort; look for those carriers that take your baby’s comfort as seriously as yours. Try to pick a carrier that will hold baby optimally for most of the time, some come with specially designed bucket seats and others will widen for facing in and back carrying.

Have a look and take your choice remembering that Soul Sling products offer either position. Me? I switch. I want Mr. C (‘Official Child’ of to drink in his new world with those beautiful eyes, so clear, so bright, so… Excuse me, I digress. That said, I am not ignorant of the long-term health considerations. I switch. Not too much of one. Not too much of the other. I switch. Another controversy engaged and gently forced to surrender.

I’ve used my linen Annona and I love it! What I like about this sling is its lightweight fabric (again, think Singapore). That, and its shape-shifting nature make it comfortable for me and Mr. C. When it has to go into the suitcase, it does so with little reluctance and without much added weight to my already  jam-packed luggage.


My Friend John (MFJ) recommends a trip to Zambia to see for yourself how the chitengi evolved into the Soul sling. He extols the destination with word pictures of Victoria Falls, safaris, the planet’s best weather, and local friendliness. Usually loaded with practical advice, MFJ becomes a tad carried away when invoking his African days. Bear with him. His exotic memories are deep and vivid. They can be brought to the surface with a word – ‘chitengi.’
Check out this babywearing tips here:
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