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South Africa's Maxhosa Knitwear For Men (& Women?)

We talk to Laduma Ngxokolo from South African fashion house Maxhosa Knitwear about his close Xhosa ties and the possibility of threads for women.


Among the shuffling back and forth of Cape Town’s hottest new creative hub ‘its a house’, preparations for an upcoming photo shoot are underway. A young man stands quietly near the clothing rails, humbly admiring the many accomplishments he has made in the design world thus far. One of the stand out contributors of the Design Indaba 2013, he showcased his affinity for fashion using bright colours and cultural graphics, designing a line that projects a pride in the Xhosa culture and everything it stands for. We had a quick chat with Laduma Ngxokolo, designer and founder of Maxhosa Knitwear.

OKA: Who you are and what you do?

Laduma Ngxokolo: My name is Laduma Ngxokolo, and I’m a network design specialist based in Port Elizabeth, and I founded a fascinating collection inspired by traditional Xhosa prints.

*All photos by Simon Deiner (SDR Photography)

OKA: So that’s something very close to your heart then? Your ‘Xhosaness?’

LN: It is, and it has been important to my family for a very long time. In my childhood we always had a very traditional upbringing. My mother used to read me Xhosa anthropological books as bedtime stories, and it’s something that I’ve grown up with, that I’m still growing into, and I want to embrace it every way I can.

OKA: Will you read the same books to your future children?

LN: I definitely will. I have to pass on the culture to the next generation so that I can open them up to where we come from so that they can learn the lessons that come from the culture.

OKA: For people who aren’t necessarily Xhosa, are you trying to pass along these lessons with your clothes?

LN: Yes, actually with the clothes I tend to focus on the beauty of the culture. Last year I was part of an exhibition called The Beauty of Beadwork, and I took it upon myself to showcase the beauty of knitwear which is what I know best, and i pulled those two elements together to create something that people can appreciate and wear every day, instead of just on Heritage Day, which is what usually happens with beadwork.

OKA: It seems that your line is doing extremely well with that idea. Have you given any thought to creating a line for women?

LN: I’ve been speaking to my sister in hopes of creating a female range. I’ve also spoken to a woman called Marianne Visser who is quite interested in my work, and we hope to collaborate to cover different perspectives of women and knitwear. I’m not a lady myself, so I would do it from a man’s perspective, to show how I see women culturally, as a Xhosa man. I hope that people are looking forward to it as much as I am.

To keep up to date with Laduma and his line go here.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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