Video

A Dapper Short Film: 'Boys of Soweto'

'Boys of Soweto' short film from South African filmmaker Meja Shoba.


Boys of Soweto is the vividly shot tale of a dapperly-dressed circle of gentlemen, a group of suave-conscious South Africans known as Boys of Soweto. The short film (shot in just a day's work) runs like a high-end fashion spread set to jazzy tempo, a love letter to both style and township beauty (a union perhaps most colorfully represented by B.O.S.). Watch Boys of Soweto below and read on for our interview with filmmaker Meja Shoba.

OKA: What's the concept behind the film? What's the story?

Meja Shoba: The concept is about six well-dressed men who make a point to look good in order to vie for the attention of a beautiful young lady who routinely passes their way. One of the gentlemen fortuitously gets close to her, and they all quickly learn that her affection is won by a simple and sweet gesture.

OKA: Is it your first short film?

MS: I'm in UCLA's graduate film program studying directing, so I have shot a few short narrative films already, as well as a short documentary on South African kwaito-electro duo Dirty Paraffin.

OKA: What is the most important aspect of the film? the Fashion? The guys? The story?

MS: After meeting and plotting with the guys of Boys of Soweto, we all decided to organically integrate fashion and township elegance as part of the narrative, not as independent entities. I wanted to let the sensibility of story be the core of the film, and let all other elements such as the guys' chemistry and rapport with each other, the fashionable suits, the beautiful young lady, and the Soweto location all enhance the look and feel of the film.

OKA: Who are the Boys of Soweto?

MS: Boys of Soweto is a South African fashion and style group consisting of Bobo Ndima, Mbali Bangwayo, Pirates football player Manti Molemo Moholo, Kronic Bonisiswe Nhleko, and Morgan Kgobane. The group has an urban sophistication to their gentleman style. They are lovers of all things fashion and are quite known in the Johannesburg scene.

OKA: What do you guys have upcoming?

MS: At the moment I'm scripting an African inspired Charlie's Angel-eque heist film that I wish to shoot in Johannesburg. And as for Boys of Soweto, they recently were commissioned by Palladium boots for a photo shoot and continue to keep pushing their group to the public. I have a strong feeling I will be working with the guys very soon! It was fun collaborating with them.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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