For me, 40 years after 1976 is like a back to back record of the same album – with both the present and past playing in parallel with each other. For most parts, the sound of the past is silent but repeats itself in certain instances along with the present.
The past is silent because I don’t have to dodge bullets on a daily basis and go to school with the fear of being teargased just for the sake of existing, BUT. Those attacks are still being imposed on me when I stand up for my rights against poor service delivery that is promised to South Africans every single time our votes are needed. These are times when the sounds of history become apparent in my present: When I’m not happy with the education system; I’m chased with rifles and teargased to silence (#FeesMustFall). When my salary doesn’t amount to the labour that I exhaust and I try to voice that out; rifles and teargas make their infamous debut (#marikana).
The mere fact that I am compelled to protest in order for my rights to be implemented in this day and age; this now “democratic” South Africa, gives me a nauseous feeling. In my eyes, there’s plenty of progress but we still have a long way to go.
A personal representation of the status quo of our country came to me through an outfit I was wearing a few days back. All the pieces of my outfit were a perfect demonstration of our current state of affairs in my mind. Just to give you an idea, here’s what I was wearing:
- A velour top made by a designer friend of mine.
- A pencil skirt I bought at Jay-Jay’s a few years back.
- Shoes I recently purchased at River Island.
- And, to my surprise, my feet.
So I’m sure you asking yourself ‘what on earth am I blabbing about’? How does an outfit represent a nation’s current state of affairs? But we all think differently. My love for clothes goes beyond me seeing them as just clothes and this is what I mean:
The top represented the potential I’ve witnessed in all South Africans.
This was a sample top by ‘Gordon House of Six’. It is made out of velour, a plush fabric with a soft velvety texture. The top was structured enough for me to wear it but not quite complete for sale because its hems weren’t quite seamless. Looking at this incomplete but beautiful top, its potential reminded me of the many young South Africans doing something for themselves and making a mark.
On a bigger scale, I thought about the growth of our fashion industry. Designers like Laduma of Maxhosa being endorsed by the likes of Beyoncé just based on pure talent. I thought of the international recognition and footprint that designers like Laduma, David Tlale and Thula Sindi have paved for other upcoming designers.
The most recent – and probably unexpected – being the ravishing Xhosa inspired piece worn my Nandi Mngoma at the BET awards from her soon to launch line ‘Colour’. The line is barely launched yet but she was already getting endorsed by prominent American media! She mentioned on her Instagram account that they were planning on launching locally but because of the global demand, they will rather launch internationally instead. Amazing progress not only in fashion but music too, with DJ Black Coffee being this year’s honorary of BET’s Best International Act award. Truly a marvel!
When looking at this outstanding potential on a lower scale, I thought about upcoming designers that I have had the pleasure of working with such as ‘Kahvarah’ and ‘Gordons House of Six’. I think about the Photographers that started ‘K A S I I N S T A W A L K’ and the concept developers behind the outstanding images. I think about all the young and talented artists emerging out of Cape Town. Not only artists but youth owned businesses like ‘Rands Cape Town’, which has provided Cape Town youth with a decent and classy environment for entertainment and social gatherings.
I see amazing work being done in all corners of our country and I see even bigger and better things to be done. Just like the velour top, the seams aren’t perfect, but there’s plenty room for growth and that’s exactly what South Africans are doing, GROWING.
The skirt represented the system we are governed by; ideally perfect but…
Just like the uncomfortably tight fit of my pencil skirt, poorly managed. I ended up not wearing it.
Our constitution prides itself as being one of the best ever developed! And indeed it is. But the system that governs us and boasts about being democratic has disappointed us in so many ways. Poor service delivery, imbalances in our justice system, our education system being “in crisis” and so many more!
22 years after our freedom and 40 years after the iconic June 16 of 1976 and students are still fighting the government for basic educational requirements. Just like my skirt, it’s a tight and uncomfortable situation to be in. But unlike a skirt that I can just zip off and dispose of, correcting these injustices is no easy task. As liberated South Africans, where do we even start?
My feet were the ugly realities South Africans face on a daily and the shoes represented where we would ideally like to be
My feet didn’t look quite as pretty as the shoes I wanted to wear. The shoes were strong, elevated and if they were a person – they would’ve been the kind of person who was sure of themselves with all of life’s opportunities on their tips. The kind of person all South Africans would want to be.
But my feet appeared to be stuck to the ground. They seemed to yearn for those beautiful shoes that looked so hard to reach. I feel like that is how most South Africans feel. With all these opportunities at our reach, sometimes we just choose to go with the flow. Because at times, the system appears to be hard to oppose:
- That 9 to 5 with a solid and basic salary
- Accepting the concept of democracy but not opposing it wisely when we identify anomalies within it.
- Racial slanders that black South Africans are still being attacked with and so many more.
My feet just depicted the sad reality to our freedom. A side that we don’t like talking about or admitting to ourselves. The side of our country that leaves us feeling like hopeless voters.
My conclusion of #40yearsafter?
For me it’s what you make it out to be. Yes at times it looks like we are tied down with ropes and can’t move like my feet. But this truly is a land filled with opportunity and I can attest to that. Even though we feel disappointed by our leaders, we have the ability to change that. Just like the youth of June 16 of 1976, Generation X has proven itself to be brave enough to stand up to injustices with the #FeesMustFall Movement. We just need to stand together more often for worthy causes, believe in our talents and work towards making our country thrive economically. This is the time when we can make something of ourselves and continue knocking on doors which have been shut down on us (hell, break them down if we need to!). We are finally being recognized internationally for the outstanding, talented, rich and diverse nation we’ve always prided ourselves to be. Adversities of the past and present do not need to run us down. Instead let’s learn from them and create a better reality for ourselves. The world is looking; now let’s make it our runway!
More Images from the June 16 Kasiinstawalk….
Photographs by Luvuyo Wogqoyi. Pants by Gordons House of Six.
More images from Luvuyo…
Photographs by Mawande Manez Sobethwa. Top by Kahwarah.
More images from Mawande…
Visit the Kasiinstawalk page on Facebook for more compelling images from the walk.
Love Yoli xxx
Other Images: Instagram