Traditional South African fashion
• Culture: understanding the context
• Sho Madjozi and Tsonga culture
• Vector Malome and Basotho culture
• Beyonce and Africa going global
African culture is expressed in its arts and crafts, folklore and religion, clothing, cuisine, music and languages. Expressions of culture are abundant within Africa, with large amounts of diversity. South Africa, with its myriad ethnicities, languages and social mores is the perfect lens to reflect how traditional clothing is leaping from the shoulder of fashion into the playground of music and culture. As Africa continues to have its moment, energized by its globalization and a rekindled pride in what and how we do things, The Wire explores how traditional clothing is expressed in contemporary music.
Breakout artist Sho Madjozi’s visual identity is very much an investigation, if not a contextualization, of her Tsonga heritage. Alongside rapping in Tsonga to a gqom beat and her wearing the tinguvu skirt, she also performs the xibelani dance, all expressing pride in the Xitsonga culture. The skirt, worn around the waist, is designed to make the wearer’s hips look bigger, to emphasize the shaking. With her viral hit, John Cena, Sho has also performed the dance globally, including at the BUDX Festival in Miami to a gathering of the world’s top culture creators.
Madjozi is also known for her iconic hairstyles influenced by Fulani and Tuareg women. The hairstyles influenced both girls & women and became a trend in 2016, her breakthrough year, as the gqom music genre gained momentum.
The rapper, singer, song writer and producer from the Kingdom of Lesotho, Malome Vector fuses his culture and his art in a very contemporary way.
“I am so proud of my Basotho culture. I want to share it with the world and show everyone that being a rapper can be culturally cool,” he says. “I see my music being appreciated as it’s a fusion of sounds that can be welcomed across all cultures.” Those sounds – rooted in traditional SeSotho rhythms – are adding an extra layer to the landscape of African hip hop and Afropop. On the use of Famo (contemporary Sesotho music), he says: “The accordion in it gives it a unique flavour. Its exclusive nature means you’ll know which country to associate it with, wherever you hear it in the world.”
Vector Malome also proudly represents his Basotho culture in his videos, often wearing the Basotho Blanket over his shoulder. The way that Basotho men wear these traditional blankets is based on the traditional Kaross, an animal skin cloak, although their transformation to “factory-woven textile” is attributed to King Moshoeshoe I. They have a deep cultural significance and history and are used for every occasion. The Basotho blanket was somewhat controversially seen in Louis Vuitton’s designs in 2017 menswear collection and in the 2018 films Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity war.
Gaining momentum and coalescing in Beyonce’s visualopus,“Black Is King”, African traditional design went conceptual, reimagined as Black Conscious Royalty. It featuresa plethora of African designersandtraditionalheritageelementslike head wrapsand is an excitingwindow into the future of African design. It is notable to acknowledge that traditional African clothing and cultural heritage is carving its own narrative and impact as itinfiltratesglobal culture.And when stars with the stature of Beyonce,together with her advisors and trendcasters,say “Africa”(THIS FEELS TRUNCATED –WHAT DO YOU MEAN HERE?Do you mean to say: “Africa is global”?),then you know that something big & bankable is on the horizon.
C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.
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