TO BE MALEBO

 
IT ALL STARTED WITH A PHOTO. I MET MALEBO AT A PSYTRANCE PARTY IN CAPE TOWN CALLED JUNGALA. SHE CAME UP TO ME WITH HER PHONE AND SHOWED ME A PHOTO THAT SHE HAD TAKEN OF ME, TELLING ME THAT I LOOKED ‘TOO GOOD NOT TO SEE IT.’ FLATTERED, I CHECKED THE PHOTO AND OBVIOUSLY LIKED IT. OF COURSE, IF YOU MAKE ME LOOK GOOD ON INSTAGRAM, YOU ARE A DAMN WORTHY FRIEND.

IN THE SHORT TIME THAT I GOT TO KNOW MALEBO, I PICKED UP ON A FEW THINGS. SHE IS NOT AFRAID TO SPEAK HER MIND – THAT IS SOMETHING THAT I ADMIRE AND GREATLY APPRECIATE IN A PERSON. HER STYLE IS ALWAYS ON POINT, AND I LOVE THE WAY THAT SHE INCORPORATES HER AFRICAN CULTURE INTO HER FASHION. AND SHE IS UNAPOLOGETICALLY WOMYN, SHE IS DIRECT, TO THE POINT, AND DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK. I LATER FOUND OUT THAT SHE WAS BROUGHT UP IN SOWETO (ENGLISH SYLLABIC ABBREVIATION FOR SOUTH WESTERN TOWNSHIPS), ONE OF SOUTH AFRICA’S MOST WELL KNOWN TOWNSHIPS, WHERE BLACK PEOPLE WERE FORCED OUT OF ‘WHITE AREAS’ DURING APARTHEID. IN THIS WEEK’S WOMYN WEDNESDAY, WE TALK WITH CAPE TOWN-BASED FASHION STYLIST, MALEBO MOYANA ABOUT CULTURE, FASHION AND LIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA.

 

SOUTH AFRICANS ARE KNOWN TO HAVE VERY DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS. WHAT ARE YOUR ROOTS?

MY ANCESTORS FROM MY FATHER’S SIDE ARE NDAWO, A MOZAMBICAN TRIBE/CLAN. MY MOTHER IS PEDI, IT’S ALSO KNOWN AS NORTHERN SOTHO. I’M A MIXTURE OF NDAWO, ZULU AND PEDI. WE SPEAK PRIMARILY ISIZULU. I’M DIVERSE AND CAN RELATE TO A BROADER SPECTRUM OF PEOPLE. I TEND TO [EXPRESS MYSELF] IN MY NATIVE LANGUAGE AS SOME THINGS ARE BEST SAID IN ISIZULU.

 

MEET MALEBO MOYANA – RAD GIRL AND FASHION STYLIST FOR DUNNS, SA

 

YOU’RE FROM SOWETO. WHY THE MOVE TO CAPE TOWN?

I DON’T LIKE BEING IN ONE PLACE FOR TOO LONG. APART FROM THAT I FELT THE PROGRESS OF MY CAREER WAS STAGNATE IN JOHANNESBURG AND I WAS HUNGRY TO GROW. THE BEACH IS A HUGE BONUS.

 

WHAT WAS IT LIKE LIVING IN SOWETO? HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED SINCE COMING TO CAPE TOWN?

FOR THE MOST PART IT IS AMAZING. I LOVED GROWING UP IN THE TOWNSHIP, WHERE I COULD GET HOME FROM SCHOOL AND GO OUT TO PLAY IN THE STREETS UNTIL SUNSET. WHERE EVERY ADULT WAS YOUR PARENT AND YOU KNEW ALL YOUR NEIGHBOURS. MOVING TO CAPE TOWN HAS CHANGED MY PERSPECTIVE ON A LOT OF THINGS. IT’S IS SUCH A DIVERSIFIED CITY. I’VE MOVED FROM BEING IN A CLOSE KNIT COMMUNITY WHERE I KNEW ALL THE FACES WHEN I WENT OUT TO MEETING NEW PEOPLE EVERY TIME I LEFT MY HOUSE.

 

 

WHILE I WAS IN CAPE TOWN, I SOMETIMES FELT A TENSION BETWEEN WHITES AND BLACKS THAT I DIDN’T FEEL IN OTHER PARTS OF SOUTH AFRICA. CAN YOU RELATE TO THIS?

CAPE TOWN IS SADLY POPULAR FOR RACISM YET IN THE SAME LIGHT I SEEM TO INTERACT MORE WITH DIFFERENT RACES HERE THAN I DID LIVING IN GAUTENG. THE RACIAL DIVIDE DOES EXIST LARGELY IN THIS CITY THAT’S FOR SURE. MY BEST FRIEND AND BOYFRIEND BOTH HAPPEN TO BE CAUCASIAN. NONE OF WHICH ARE SOUTH AFRICAN. I HAVE HAD A FEW INSTANCES WHERE SOUTH AFRICAN WHITE PEOPLE WOULD WALK UP TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH THEM AND COMPLETELY DISREGARD ME. I HAVEN’T EXPERIENCED ANY SEVERE RACISM APART FROM A YOUNG LADY TELLING MY BOYFRIEND TO BE SURE TO USE A CONDOM WITH ME AS I PROBABLY HAVE HIV SIMPLY BECAUSE I’M BLACK. THAT WAS THE MOST RACIALLY CHARGED EXPERIENCE I HAVE HAD THUS FAR.

 

MALEBO AND CHRIS – I LIKE TO TAKE CREDIT FOR THIS COUPLE EVER MEETING

 

DO YOU THINK THERE IS PROGRESS BEING MADE IN SOUTH AFRICA WITH THE NEW GENERATION AFTER THE APARTHEID?

I THINK THERE IS A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TRANSFORMATION THAT HAS BEEN MADE IN OUR GENERATION – TO THE EXPECTATION OF THOSE SET ON THEIR WAYS BECAUSE OF THEIR UPBRINGING. STRANGELY THE YOUNGER PEOPLE ARE MORE RACIALLY CHARGED AND REFER TO THEMSELVES AS “CONSCIOUS.”

 

WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF CONSCIOUS?

NO. NOT AT ALL. I’M NOT AN ACTIVIST OF ANY SORT. I TAKE EACH DAY AS IT COMES AND TREAT PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS.

 

HOW DID YOU GET INTO FASHION?

I’VE ALWAYS HAD AN EYE FOR CLOTHING. I COULDN’T DRAW SO I COULDN’T GET INTO FASHION SCHOOL. I VENTURED OFF INTO MEDIA BUT THE FASHION CALLING FOUND ME AGAIN. I APPLIED FOR A JOB AS A MERCHANDISE CLERK FOR ONE OF SOUTH AFRICA’S BIGGEST RETAIL CHAINS AND WAS QUICKLY PROMOTED TO AN ASSISTANT BUYER. I’VE WORKED MY WAY UP TO FINALLY BEING A SPECIALIST BUYER.

 

CAUGHT IN THE ACT AT A DUNN’S FASHION SHOW

 

HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU EXPRESS YOURSELF THROUGH FASHION?

I WEAR WHAT I WANT, WHEN I WANT. WORKING IN FASHION HAS ALSO MADE IT EASY BECAUSE I’M NOT LIMITED TO WHAT I WEAR. I DO NOT WEAR BRA’S AT ALL. MY REBELLIOUS SPIRIT WON’T LET ME LIVE UP TO SOCIETIES EXPECTATIONS.

 

HOW DOES YOUR BACKGROUND AND CULTURE AFFECT THE WORK THAT YOU DO?

IT HELPS ME RELATE TO THE CUSTOMER BASE AND IT ALLOWS ME TO BE MORE CREATIVE AS I’VE HAD THE PLEASURE OF DEALING WITH PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE. I’M MORE OPEN MINDED.

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A BLACK WOMAN IN SOUTH AFRICA TODAY?

IT MEANS I HAVE TO WORK HARDER TO PROVE MY WORTH. THAT IT TAKES SO MUCH MORE FOR ME TO PROVE THAT I’M COMPONENT ENOUGH TO DO THE JOB.

 

 

DO YOU FIND YOUR BACKGROUND OR CULTURE INFLUENCES YOUR STYLE?

I THINK IT DOES TO A CERTAIN EXTENT. WE CELEBRATE OUR BODIES AND ARE COLOURFUL AND SO AM I.

 

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Sarah
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Love this interview! I wish I had Malebo’ style, she’s a definite fashionista and I’m inspired by the bra-less lifestyle. Thanks for sharing this!

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