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Her Tribe

Untangling the mystique behind braids.

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Written By: Nokwazi Phangela, Photography by: Mark Kucharsk

Box braids and twists have a long and beautiful relationship with South Africa and black women all over the world. No matter the length, or size or style, braiding has been used for centuries to protect African hair while swagging it out.

Affectionately referred to as “Da Bratz” in South Africa, thick braids became popular with the emerging hip-hop pop culture of the afro conscious youth in the ’90s. According to an article on www.Essence.com, they were made iconically famous by Janet Jackson when she wore waist-length box braids in the 1993 flick Poetic Justice. 

In the same year, Boom Shaka came out with their single “Its about time”; where the female duo consisting of Thembi Seete and the legendary late Lebo Mathosa sport waist length twist-outs in the equally iconic high ponytail. Over the years following that, Mathosa informally trademarked the iconic waist length blonde braids in South Africa. 


Jada Pinkett Smith was styled in a braided bob when she played the role of Stony, who was the youngest of the female bandits in the 1996 classic Set It Off. Short braids are a favourite for young girls because they’re easier to handle, and they’re often embellished with beads to make them fancier and unique from the next.

Braided hair has remained the go-to everyday hairstyle for black women over the centuries. Unfortunately, “go-to every day” does not mean instant, as most of us know that getting braids done is a long and sometimes tedious process to accomplish all its majestic beauty.

To add to the mystique behind this historical hairstyle, research shows that Queen Nefertiti, who lived during the fourteenth century B.C was known for wearing dark blue wigs, and festive wigs were sometimes coated in a thin layer of gold. Dr Zinga A. Fraser, quoted in the Essence.com article says that historically, a specific look could indicate age, marital status or which clan one belonged to.

Braids in the 21st century come in every colour imaginable, and are still being worn for their intended purpose of protecting the complexity that is African hair and not so much as a reflection of age or marital status. SA pop star Sho-Madjozi is well known for her out of the box braids (see what I did there), that show influence from various African countries/Tribes as well as the world, the complexity and detail on her hair look nothing like the assumed “out-of-the-box convenience” that we all wish for.

Twars have even been fought over who is “allowed” to box braid their hair, such as the Kardashians being slammed for cultural appropriation. Plenty of arguments have also been had over the “appropriate” way for “African” hair to be worn. However, evidence shows that apart from protecting the hair, hairstyles are an expression of self and creativity. In the context of a global community, everyone should be able to wear their hair as they please.

Written by: Nokwazi Phangela

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Her Tribe

Vuuqa, an African online store that brings the market to your fingertips

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Vuuqa is an online platform that sells African brands. The name Vuuqa is a word that was coined from “suuqa” meaning market in Somali, and “vuka” meaning to get up in isiZulu. It’s a call for Africa to rise up through local consumption and production, therefore fueling the economy and building the continent. We had a chat with the ladies from Vuuqa about how it all came about and their journey and obstacles in the e-commerce space. Here’s what they had to say…

How did the idea come to fruition?

We met whilst studying towards our MBA and were both selling products individually. We then quickly realised that selling beyond our current market was a difficult task. We both wanted to create separate online stores but decided that it would be better to create one website that could create access to market for other people who found themselves in our position. Hence Vuuqa was created as an online marketplace that sells African brands in order to create access to market for small African brands beyond their individual reach.

What is one of the key lessons that you learnt when you ventured into the e-commerce space?

E-commerce in Africa is not the same as E-commerce in the western world. We’ve therefore started describing what we do as Afri-commerce .

How interesting has the journey been with many Africans still afraid of buying online?

It’s forced us to be creative on how we present our value offering. For example, you can pay via e-wallet mobile payments for security reasons as some customers do not want to enter their banking details when paying. We have realized that you cannot only be present digitally, you also have to have physical presence, phygital, in order to educate consumers on the safety and ease of buying online.

How have you maneuvered this space and built trust?

The most beneficial thing that’s happened to Vuuqa is the power of referrals. This either through people who know us personally or from the brands on the platform. Africans are a communal and creative society. What we’ve found is that every other person either knows or have heard of someone in their circles who creates something. Through our services, we’re able to give you an online presence, where you can get access to a market that’s beyond their current reach. That’s the power of Vuuqa.

What sort of products have you seen sell more on your site?

So far, natural beauty products, such as shea butter sell really well and have a high customer return rate. The other items that sell well are traditional print fashion items such as bomber jackets and fanny packs. It’s important however, to note that this is also influenced by the type of brands we have on the platform: Vuuqa is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting products we’re yet to encounter.

How do people place their products on Vuuqa?

On the vuuqa platform, there’s a “sell on vuuqa” tab. On there, interested brands provide details on their offering. Thereafter, a member of the Vuuqa team will reach out to you and help you through the entire process, from quality checks, to finally publishing your brand’s page getting you ready to sell online!

What’s the grand mission for this service?

To provide small brands with a platform where they can sell and guidance on how they can position themselves to compete on an international level.

Where can our readers learn more and support Vuuqa and all the refreshing brands it has on its digital shelves?

Visit our website to browse and shop on www.vuuqa.com

Follow, like, and share our pages and posts on social media. The more people know about us, the better chance the brands on our platform get to sell and market their brand to the world.

FB: Vuuqa

IG: @vuuqa

Twitter: @vuuqa_

LinkedIn: Vuuqa

  • Any last words to leave other aspiring entrepreneurs in your industry?

Quality, professionalism and resilience over everything! Africa, this is our time!

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Events

Numbers | Exhibiton by Keneilwe Mokoena

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It has always been a numbers game even before humans came into existence, I mean..in the beginning there was one right?? or as Catholic priest, astronomer and professor, Georges Lemaître first noted in 1927 that “an expanding universe could be traced back in time to an originating single point”…a whole single (1) point, a BIG BANG…can you believe it? no? who cares if you don’t …anyways…

It even gets crazier to think numbers may have a mystical relationship with your life and who you are when you are born; This can be discovered when you get your hands dirty in the study of numerology and most specifically the study of life path numbers. I could make a gazillion examples of numbers in non-verbal communication, the golden ratio, sacred geometry…technology, biology…life, but I’d rather let you come to experience it for your self in a few hours, today at the last leg of Numbers | Exhibition curated by 2015 Reinhold Cassirer Award winner Keneilwe Mokoena.

Date: 18 August 2018

Location: Hazard Gallery (Maboneng), Johannesburg

Time: 14:00 until late

 

What to expect

Cow Mash

 

Exploring her identity as a woman by using the cow as a metaphor, she addresses with issues of sexism not only in society, but in her own home. Cow treads on and interrogates the expectations women are burdened with, such as mundane chores in the home, and how she grapples with such expectations place on her at home.

DuduBloom

Mostly using thread and circles, DuduBloom explores the themes of habits and cycles in sub-themes of movement and anxiety. Those themes interlink and create repetition of one another in different ways and different situations, which constantly create new cycles Codes are numbers. Colours are hex-codes. Moods and emotions are colour sensitive. New emotions, sad emotions, unexplainable emotions, cyclic emotions, joyful emotions, hidden emotions, frustrating emotions, deep emotions. Colours are mood and emotion evoking. Colours are hex-codes. Codes and numbers. What number are you feeling today?

Manyaku Mashilo

If geometry is the expression of deep mathematical truths through symbols, then it is through geometry that numbers can speak to us on a personal and philosophical level about our experience. The perfect circle is a abstract symbol with its foundations in mathematics, but has also represented the power of the female in ancient and modern cultures alike. In this work the artist’s obsessive repetition of the circle overwhelms the defaced male figure in the foreground, its masculinity disrupted and consumed in a flow of sensual feminine geometry. Mathematics cannot adequately quantify the dominance of masculinity in our society, but here it is used as a weapon to tear it down.

Keneilwe Mokoena

The interactive installation ponders on the significance of the number ‘7’ throughout nature, represented through the use of seven circles in the creation of The Flower of Life pattern. It’s an attempt at transforming space and creating an immersive sensory experience of stepping into a drawing.

Boitumelo Mazibuko

Boitumelo’s work focuses on the internal disputes of patriarchy. The internalised discrimination. The effects of a woman wearing a hypothetical “socially accepted” garment or even a garment she wears to make it clear that she is outcast from society. How she sees her own body from the male gaze (whether it’s misogynistic or from religious view). The comparison between other women and herself. Whether she’s holy or unholy. Her devotion to her faith versus living a liberated life.

There are lots more other artists including video instillations to check out, so pull through.

Written by: Lethabo Ngakane

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Fashion

Mobu by Melo presents the Seilatsatsi range for curvy women

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Born Mamello Mosase and tenderly known by her pseudonym Melo – is a 25-year-old founder of a brand called  Mobu by Melo which directly translates to “Soil by Melo”; a phrase that resonates deeply with her roots as a firm yet cheeky girl from Qwaqwa in the eastern Freestate.

“I was born into a world of art, music, hard work, community, resistance and beautiful things; these are all gifts I received from the two women who raised me, my grandmother and late mother”. After being a causality of a degree and the lack of job opportunities. Melo decided to take matters into her own hands and leave her humble beginnings in the Freestate and head out to Johannesburg to honour her and to realize her dreams.

“I spent days with my father in his garden, watching him mourn the death of the love of his life and finally having his full attention without him randomly getting distracted by mothers’ beauty and theatrics. He taught me about soil as God, I listened and Mobu, which translates to “soil”, was born to sum up all I gathered from my father: Mobu- Modimo, Badimo. God, the creator. God, the Gods.”

This shoot features the Seilatsatsi range and is shot by Kgomotso Neto in the township of Daveyton. Kaffein Magazine assisted with creative direction and the locations that boast a variety of classic 4-roomed houses which fearlessly bare different textures and colours that played as a backdrop to this vibrant, timeless and finely crafted brand. The range was recently launched through an exhibition by His and Hers Jams called Woman and Art.

Check out what this beautiful collaboration of passionate people yielded.

 

Follow Mobu by Melo on IG below:

Words by: Lethabo Ngakane

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Behind The Lens

Zelé Angelides: challenging stereotypes and gender binaries

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Zelé Angelides is a 29-year-old photographer born in Johannesburg. As a passionate, patient and persistent creator she managed to graduate in Graphic Design at the University of Johannesburg (cum laude) as well as acquire a postgraduate in Photography (cum laude). Zelé describes her approach to photography as one that inspires “a raw connection with the viewer, invoking an emotional response”. She does this by exploring how a printed photographic images can come close to reality by replicating an intimate moment.

Her work delves into confronting and challenging stereotypes and gender binaries in the subjects that she would work, both in subtle and overt ways and to investigate perceptions of femininity and the female form.

“Work I developed during my Luminous Bodies Residency in Toronto July 2016. luminousbodies.com

 

Written by: Lethabo Ngakane

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Dekaff

Dekaff: Lex LaFoy – ‘Vuk Ekseni’

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Year: 2017

Genre/Style: Hip-Hop/RAP

Lex LaFoy has been around the SA creative scene in for quite a while, and emceeing is among one of her specialties that she has become well-known for; killing it both on the field (battling and freestyles) and in studio. This single, ‘Vuk Ekseni’ is just a snippet of what she has to offer on the M.I.C.

The joint is proudly produced by Durban homeboys, The Nutscratchers and sees Lex spitting her raps strictly in IsiZulu in the first two verses, before switching it to the universal tongue in the last verse right after the thumping, House inspired transition.  See, the song basically talks about waking up (early) and going out there to get it, getting your grind on! The chorus says it all for summated emphasis, tweaked to sound deep with the heavily dropped  pitch on the vocals.

As for the beats, damn! You gotta give it up to The Nutscratchers…

Give it a listen below and download.

 

Words by: Tsheola Asavela

 

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