Tomorrow’s Daughter’s are Today

Nelson Mandela- Photographs by David Turnley

In celebrating the big global movement and the shift in consciousness where womyn are putting our bodies on the line and frontiers of patriarchy that has pitted gender wars as well as calamity against the black female body, I now declare that the beautyful ones are here. We are here marching with the dance and song of generations of womyn who have had mind-bending and spirit-altering war meted against our bodies and psyches, who have been programmed to hate our wombs and battle against white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Womyn who have been shamed through adages such as “slut”, “nymphomaniac”, “ugly duckling”, “whore”, “witch”, and relegated to the margins of society where our image of ‘who we should be’ trapped us in schizophrenic identities that further alienated ourselves from who we are. The deep and internalised alienation wrecked and butchered our wombs, our divinity, our femininity, and left our gentleness foreign to us. We are now here, tomorrow’s daughters, today, using those very denigrated bodies to confront and expose the male whoredom of anti-female ideology in the brothel of history.

I speak in wake of students at Rhodes and Wits Universities; with the voice of Dr Stella Nyanzi at Makerere University whose “unethical” antics against an unethical system was articulated through her black naked body; I speak with the suffocating voice of Sarah Baartman who could not breathe under a colonial gaze informed by perverse white patriarchal fetishes; I speak in the wake of Beyoncé’s Lemonade (the visual masterpiece) where she puts her own body on the line crusading against a violent structure that advocates womyn not being enough; with the voice of Pumla Gqola whose embodied life work preaches the baptism of fire suffered by the black female body scorched by sexual violence over the centuries; in the voice of our mothers who built houses of pain with a fierce love that finds its reverberations today. I sing with Thandiswa Mazwai whose generational voice strives to challenge history’s lopsided narrative that villainized womyn and launched a witch hunt on any of us who strived to be tomorrow’s daughter in the hollowed womb of yesterday’s violations. I recite with Lebogang Mashile in her poem ‘Tomorrow’s Daughters’, that strives to bring the voice of “pretty black girls” from the margins to the centre of discourse:

I want to write a poem                                                   Pumla-GqolaAbout pretty black girls
Who don’t relax and lie their dreams away
Voices that curl
The straight edges of history
Hair thin slices of a movement
Turning the world kinky
I respect the disciplines silent screamers
Who expose the holes

I revere people to my own detriment
Perhaps you did too
But when I enter your hallowed hearth
Please don’t turn me away
I want to show pretty black girls
How to look at their hearts
With eyes blaring full blast
The way you did
Together we can build a bridge
To the promise in their faces
And pull them towards poems
By pretty black girls
Wearing crowns of change

Mashile and our mothers’ daughters of tomorrow are here, retrieving a wholesome past poked with holes and lies about forbidden fruits in the garden, to make it whole again. We are reasserting the enduring unchained spirits of our foremothers; redefining a life of our own making that does not cross-reference patriarchy’s rules; and rewriting a history that repudiates adherence to the straight edges of a singular story by celebrating homogenous histories and dynamic genders through intersectionality. Pretty black girls have suffered more negligence, violence, dehumanization, rape, and marginalization than any other group throughout history; and we are here, refusing to “relax and lie our dreams away”. We are doing anything but relaxing. We are bushy, unkempt, sooty, fierce, animalistic and fighting for visibility. You cannot look away. The lie and the lye of maleness and whiteness corroded the fabrics of our being and aborted our dreams for centuries that break our backs. We are here with sjamboks, and we are loud, emerging from centuries of ravage and ruin, celebrating and wearing crowns of change.

I am reminded of Wanelisa Xaba’s pondering of schizophrenic traps set for womyn, in which she laments, “You shame us when we love sex. You shame us when we’re not interested in sex. You shame us when we want to use contraceptives. You shame us when we don’t use protection. … You shame us when we’re virgins. You shame us when we need access to abortions. You shame us when we choose adoption. You shame us when we’re single mothers. You shame us when we wear too much makeup. You shame us when we don’t wear any makeup. You shame us when we don’t fight back. You shame us for throwing a punch. You shame us when we’re too thin. You shame us when we’re too fat. You shame us when we’re sad. You shame us when we’re happy”. And the list goes on and on: trusted hotep brothers and Fanon-quoting ‘brothers’ peddling a brand of unattainable female goddess which most certainly always relegates any outspoken and sexual black female to whoredom.

That has been the life of a black womyn under the constant and unnerving gaze of the cis het men in the inner circle of ‘safety’, from our fathers, uncles, and male cousins to our boyfriends, and the entitled cat-callers whose derision is always a threat more than a compliment. Even the phrase “cat-calling”, most certainly a discursive practice cloaked in generations of inequality and normalised sexual possession of the black female body, is a perverse allusion to ‘calling the pussy’. Nobody is indignant of that ongoing abuse! We are enmeshed in centuries of oppression as black womyn, that even the language is gendered to perpetuate our subjugation (hence ‘womyn’ instead of ‘woman’ or ‘women’). Our subjectivity over the centuries has been engendered by the male gaze, rendering us commodities to be consumed by any Tom, Dick and Dickie, subject to discipline and punish, just like slaves—misogyny is surely meted out if we do not live up to those unattainable standard mentioned above of what constitutes the ideal female. Who is the quintessential female if even Jesus’ own mother was shamed, violenced and silenced?

The male gaze over the centuries has been one of the most powerful strategies of oppression and domination over the black female body, and we still witness the force of its power today. One who has the power to look, particularly in this power play where the one looked at cannot look back, has the power to objectify, classify, and subject the observed. The observed’s hypervisibility (owing to the fact that we constitute half of the population) renders us powerless because they are firstly subject to identification, and secondly cannot speak back against being labelled “sefebe” (whore), “lefetwa” (womyn who is not married by a certain age, literally translates to ‘not picked’), “letekatse” (prostitute, even though there is no name for men who essentially make us prostitutes through transactions), or “moopa” (barren womyn, where it was always assumed that the couple is childless because the womyn is infertile), because commodities do not speak. This ambivalence of ‘othering’ the black female body whilst simultaneously desiring to consume it is mostly what underpins male sexual violence against the black womyn, which is essentially male violence against itself.

The frailty of that brand of masculinity exposes itself through rampant contradictions: men-made laws against breast-feeding in public are riddling at best and evoke memories of how we were told to close our legs and wear long skirts as not to wreck patriarchy’s ship. This is all to protect male desire that simultaneously presents itself as disgust. It is the same nipple you proudly and haughtily reference when you claim to be a “tits guy”. This is also found in the disgusted reactions against menstruations and the advertising of them with blue blood. It seems patriarchy is frail indeed, and cannot stomach the inherent complexity of humans, where desire and disgust can be carried with grace: the duality of birth/death. Their colonial brothers also desired and were disgusted by the black female body, treating it with contempt while consuming it. This leads me to conclude that maleness cannot stand milk/blood of creation, but are very happy with blood of destruction as they continue to spill blood over the centuries.

Warsan Shire/Beyoncé puts it like so, “I tried to change, closed my mouth more … tried to be softer, prettier, less awake”; and those are the silencing, disabling, disfiguring, and debilitating effects of the male gaze upon the black female body. There is no winning in that hallowed hearth of hate they have created because the rules of their power games elude even them. Black womyn are done downplaying our inherent ‘wokeness’. We will never know the extent of our mothers and their mothers’ power; the textures, colours, breadths, and depths of their strength. But their strength is our strength and it comes back once more in hundred-folds in an unstoppable wrath, seeking to dismantle this unconscious consciousness and resurrect the womb from the tomb of patriarchy’s morgue. We are here, we are not going anywhere, and we speak with a timeless voice of generations.

RUR nude protest

UCT RMF

Audrey Lorde

 

The Golden Years

Decide

The last six weeks have been the most exciting, difficult, fulfilling, and overwhelming; on both my physical body and my mind. Spiritually it has been a time of growth, of validation, and of learning to be silent and listen to the flows and rhythms of the life I have crafted for myself. I arrived in New York with a master plan, a fancy high tech video camera, and a tripod, with plans to immerse myself in the cultures of Harlem, the sixties, and their attendant politics. The only problem? I didn’t know who or how to get in touch with the people I sought. But fortune favours the brave so I jumped on that plane and arrived in the New World, settled in immediately and got onto the mission: digging in the archives of the Schomburg centre for research in black cultures, and drawing up a list of who would benefit my research, and expressing that interest to the universe.

The memorial service of Nat Nakasa in Manhattan opened my heart and my sensibilities to just how painful exile was, how alienating and disconcerting it felt, perpetually, to be in this place called New York, with no hope of ever going back to your country which forced your exit and reinforced your banned status. Whilst at this memorial service not only my heart and mind were opened, but my eyes and vision too. It was at this auspicious event that I met my now-guardian mother in the U.S., Rashidah Ismaili, whom, upon hearing of my research which brought fond memories of special bonds shared with Keorapetse Kgositsile and the larger South African struggle, took me under her wing and blasted open all the locks that would lead me to the right people. She was my universe. She has been gifted to my enduring spirit, to guide my sail and be the wind I need to move forward.

After six weeks on the joyous and nerve-wrecking ride of my New York trip, I have finally amassed valuable information to start writing my book and thinking very clearly about a documentary (I am now a one woman show, interviewing and shooting the interviews at the same time, with much ease). As I now sit in Washington DC, only now, in retrospect, I finally appreciate what it means to be still and know that the universe is working. There is only so much you can plan, but further than that is out of your control. Listen and practice the act of vision instead of just looking, only then will the signs be revealed to you. I present to you in images the activities of my last six weeks in New York. Here’s to four more exhilarating weeks as I move from Washington DC to Chicago to San Francisco to L.A, and back to New York to fly out… The golden years are NOW! Always

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As much as work was central to my visit, it was great to meet interesting New Yorkers and form bonds with new people from very interesting backgrounds and passions… With Shanita and Koeksista

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Jeffrey Allen (centre) is a writer whose book launch it was at Quincy Troupe’s house. He’s hosting various writing boot camps and workshops in South Africa from February 2015

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With published authors Jeffrey Allen, Rachel Griffiths, and Mitchell Jackson (from left to right)

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It’s been a pleasure having many Harlem-dwellers open their homes to me. Most of them could easily be art galleries, libraries, or music stores. These artists’ houses are living testament of memory as a powerful tool. When you can access the materiality of where you come from then you become unshakable…

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This is downstairs of the same house pictured above

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When I moved to Brooklyn after housesitting in Manhattan, this retired cop – then stranger – started telling me stories of working in narcotics in the NYPD, and 6 hours later we were still there, with him retelling, countlessly, the horrors of September 11 2001 when he was on duty while his wife was giving birth.

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I also interviewed Jeff Allen for my interview since he has been working with Keorapetse Kgositsile on the continent.

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The day of Maya Angelou’s memorial service held in New York by family and friends. Pictured above is one of my favourite authors of all times, Toni Morrison, whom I’m shocked to see in a wheelchair. Her talk was inspirational.

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The Riverside Church where Maya Angelou’s memorial service was held

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Always job-jobbin’. This camera and tripod started killing my back then my guardian mother bought me this pulley

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Kurt has been collecting rare books for 25 years, and is sitting on treasure in his house. He has the entire African Writer’s Series collection, and collections of the most obscure publications coming out of the continent over the decolonisation period.

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This was an inspirational ceremony held at the Riverside Church. There was wonderful music, great orators who moved us with their speeches, and Angelou’s family who were full of mirth and great humour.

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I caught up on some laughter in Little Italy with friends from my world. Life is too beautiful. I am now staying with Rachel’s parents in DC. Rachel is on the right

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Quincy Troupe is an amazing all-round artist and ex-athlete. He is the biographer of Miles Davis amongst many of his achievements. Google this great legend. We had the most amazing interview

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Quincy’s house is a living archive. He has world-acclaimed painters’ works hanging on his walls, and first editions of many books one could only dream of

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Essence Magazine hosted an event for New York Fashion Week

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I’ve been enjoying capturing the human essence with my lens. I am captivated by the camera lens. There’s no turning back. In conversation with Quincy Troupe

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Amongst the tons of work in his house, this one moved em the most. The medium, textures, and timeless grandiosity of this piece haunts me.

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Quincy Troupe with his biography of Miles Davis. I can only hope to be half as good a biographer as he is. Then again, I have to dream bigger!!

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I saw these twins with my lens and could not ignore them

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Catching Saul Williams’ performance was ordained. It came at a time I needed to feel differently and be rejuvenated. I was half way through my stay in New York and was beginning to feel strong yearning for my home, my husband, my pillows, my tea and my olive oil. He’s a wordsmith

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This man’s presence captures all attention. He commands respect and does not fall short on delivering

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I had never heard of this Ghanaian high life-punk rock band called Osekre and The Happy Bastards. They sound like younger Ladysmith Black Mambazo with Paul Simon

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I’m also proud of this image. I managed to capture a moment and Osekre’s evident joy in what he does

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High life is somewhat continental. Any African can move to its rhythms, reminding me that we are connected by the power of sound. Even as he sang in his native Ghanaian language, I could follow and repeat

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I never used to get the hype around Saul earlier in my life, but now I am a believer

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I consulted with a leading researcher in my field of research, The Black Atlantic, and he, Brent Edwards, is working on a book on Jazz. Right up my alley

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It was a great pleasure to visit Columbia University, where Keroapetse Kgositsile received his Masters. This is Brent Edwards, a man whose work I constantly make reference to in my thesis

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Wonderfully-spirited women who helped me see the error of history’s ways in representing the fight for equality and freedom as a manly struggle. They reminded me of the role women played in the civil rights movement, and how gender politics are inherently part of struggle for basic human rights. From left is Barbara Killen-Rivera, my spiritual mother and guardian Rashidah Ismaili, and Amiri Baraka

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Sam Anderson is a well-rounded artist, educator, activist, and author of The Black Holocaust, amongst many others. In his interview he sounded like he was giving a sermon, and I just sat there basking in his light

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Amina Baraka is an activist and a pillar that rises. She is the widow of Amiri Baraka and mother of the mayor of Newark, Ras Baraka

I even managed to end up in the fashion pages of the New York magazine! Now that’s what I call researching in style:

http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/08/face-chains-and-wild-prints-at-the-afropunk-fest/slideshow/2014/08/25/afropunk/afropunk-18/

It is my beloved husband’s birthday: my dearest darling, the mover of my worlds and the true celebrity in my life – I am constantly reminded of your transcendental spirit because wherever I am I feel you, I see you, I hear you, and I am enveloped in the safety of your love. I have put this album together, your expression of true love, sacrifice, and undying support, for you on this birthday to hold a mirror to you and show you the person you have allowed me to become. This is the greatest gift you can ever give me: believing in me and validating my passions and higher calling. I wish to celebrate you in this way today, and am in awe everyday of the man you are. You are the nectar that makes my bouquet blossom. 

Black On Both Sides: A Hard Pill to Swallow

Two Americas

Harlem Code

Harlem

On Wednesday I received this auspicious invite to attend a jazz session, and although I was feeling rather tired and PMS-ed out I decided this is not an invite you turn down. So indeed I went to Harlem to witness this very special moment which gave me a feeling of being in a shebeen in Sophiatown, South Africa, right in the middle of the sonorous 50s; except it wasn’t young and boisterous journalists and photographers that populated the spot, but rather retired African American war veterans—stylish, very “Bra Timing from Phomolong”, and filled with charm. This was the invite:

Hey Rafikiz,

Tomorrow night I am going to the best Jazz joint- after St. Nicks of course (RIP) in Harlem, and I hereby request your presence.

This spot is not for the faint hearted. It is a legion hall – A Colonel post. There will be no pampering. The average age is 60+. There will be no one to hit on or hit on you. The drinks are cheap (served airplane style) and there is no cover. Come here only if you love music (JAZZ) and tales of war by African Americans vets. There is an honour code and members live by it, so do not worry about shit you shouldn’t be worrying about.

Once you get there you go directly to the basement. It is a cash only bar, with a basic menu of the day, so if it is chicken, it is just chicken nothing else. I suspect tomorrow will be fish. Collard greens or Peas are on the house and always on the menu.

Hope to see you there if not don’t beat yourself.

PS: This is a place close to my heart so do not mass invite people. If you have plans with other young things but are not sure where to go, DO NOT GO HERE or I will forever hate you. This invite is only for you and your significant other. I am not trying to popularize this spot.  They don’t need it. 

This place is special. There is something about witnessing an older black generation born and raised in the city of New York, on the streets of Harlem—our older generation of black folks in South Africa have grown under the Draconian apartheid laws, and hence almost always have a conservative and strict disposition. Of course there are exceptions, like Bra Timing from Phomolong, who represents the self-made, stylish, and culture-conscious, jazz-loving brother/father who fancies himself the quite the ladies man—not in a Casanova kinda way, but more like he is loved by women for his gentle nature and behaviour his mom can be proud of. Last night I saw him, in numbers, in his old age, still emanating that unfading coolness. I wrote this piece while listening to the jazz ensemble, and titled it ‘Harlem Code’, after realising that black America and black South Africa have so many similarities, links and ties, as I have just outlined above.

SophiatownCold brass

Warm hands

Life force articulates

Streaming riffs—

Jazzman blows

Balloon face

Sounds histories

Complex mysteries

Human flows

Intersect, ebb

Into shared futures

Riffing bridges

Reuniting siblings

Ocean carrying song

Rivers, blood

MiriamStreams notable

On cold brass

Warm hands

Life force circulates

Strums the strings

And streams of the heart

Rumble in jungles

Of thoughts and feeling

Jazzman bops the ‘b’

Flat minor

Major ensemble

Across borders

Cold brass

Warm hearts as one

The images displayed above are both from Sophiatown in the 1950s, whilst the opening image is a portrait of a young painter in Harlem – but they can very easily interchange. The cultures of both places are impeccably similar, as has been observed by most who have been residents of both ‘hoods’. Keorapetse Kgositsile points to this in one of his poems where he seamlessly transposes a tsotsi from the streets of Sophiatown to Lennox Avenue in Harlem. He can, with much ease, step from one continent to another, guided by those exact shared histories, not without their own complexities. The similarities have opened up a whole new area of studies in academia, within which I have found an intellectual home… Take a look at this striking image. Wonderfully framed and captured in Harlem, it addressed the same issues I always write about re black aesthetics. Look at the dolls, then look at the girls, in their formative years that will shape their consciousness on what is beautiful and what is ugly. We can place this on the verandah of any South African/African home and would be resonant.

Little black girls urgently need to see magic in the mirror. Magic and transcendence...

Little black girls urgently need to see magic in the mirror. Magic and transcendence…

This is the song ‘Bra Timing From Phomolong’ that I make reference to in this post. It is particularly vehicular…

While watching the oldies last night getting down, singing beautiful songs reminiscent of Miriam Makeba and Billy Holiday, I penned this short little piece:

Old is young

gran is child

end is beggining

back points to forth

destination is departure

and death is birth.

Nugget #5

KnowledgeThere are innumerable reasons for valuing knowledge of self, one of them being that you will recognise the insults from others as their personal insecurities as opposed to internalising them. I see no bigger reason for being here than knowledge of self. It is resonant in nature, which we are a part of, that we shall wake up every day, like cycles, and face the seasons of our lives with malleable energy and grace. Those who have absconded responsibility for their power will seek to come between you and your gracious journey, and when you are there, when you are so validated by the journey of your life, you will expose them as dull lights that seek to efface yours.

Furthermore, I wish to highlight that knowledge of self does not take very kindly to labels, since, like nature, we are ever-changing and ever-evolving. That is the nature of identity; it is not fixed and seeks no stasis. Defining oneself with labels can be very limiting and can, by abstraction, take away from the various facets of who one is. Self should strive to make self with uncaptured vocabularies of self, as opposed to have the world prescribe those vocabularies. I am therefore not woman or man, not homosexual or heterosexual, not black or white, not vegetarian or meat-eater, not normal or abnormal, not Christian, Rastafarian, neither am I human or animal, plant or moon—I do not strive to be accepted socially; I am content with being on a quest to be acceptable to myself.

Dark as Night…

Blackness

This is a conversation we need more of: standards of beauty. I would generally advice against young black girls reading beauty magazines that almost always seem to glorify western standards of beauty: straight flowing hair, blonde as beautiful “bombshell”, size zero, plucked symmetrical eyebrows, and so forth. These magazines set a particular standard of beauty that excludes black girls and their entire attendant features of blackness. They seem to shout out—together with their exasperating “how to lose belly fat”, “how to land the perfect man”, “how to make an entrance”—how to be validated, acknowledged, respected, and celebrated through your physical appearance alone. This has reached an indignant zenith through the glorification of talentless celebrities parading that standard of beauty in useless reality shows.

The media is preoccupied and saturated with images of beauty that are non-representative of an entire race. If your ‘beauty’ is outside of that standard, as a young black girl passing time by reading beauty magazines, then you’re doomed to periods of alienation, self-hate, self-doubt and, in extreme cases, self-mutilation in order to achieve that cover girl look. We cannot respond to this cultural exile by finding comfort in that exile; we have to make an aesthetic return. Return with a big ‘R’! Repatriation! We need to define our own aesthetic. We need to return to the self, to our cultures and to standards of beauty of our own making. Return to a raw beauty unique to us. Return to a beauty coded with the DNA of a triumphant ancestry – to a blackness devoid of shame. Return to the black skin by removing the white mask. Return to glory…

In 2014 it seems a loss to still be shouting ‘black is beautiful’, resounding our 1960s struggle for a place of blackness in a white world; for a black consciousness that sought to hurl the insults on our race, our features, our pride, our self-worth, and our glory out of our determination for healing and growing. ‘Black is beautiful’ was not only a proclamation but was a statement of correction: correcting the wrongs of a very traumatic past and seeking closure in order for rebirth. It was a statement that sought to carve and define a black aesthetic. It was a philosophy whose tenet was the liberation of psychological oppression and depression caused by centuries of cultural assault. It is a philosophy whose tenets I have internalised, that we should all strive to consider. It is the legacy that our foremothers left for our progression as a race.

Blackness2

lupita-lancome

My fascination with, and adoration for Lupita is that finally, in my lifetime there’s someone representative of my own kinda beauty. Thus far it’s been a dry spell, with scarce splutters of Thandi Newton here, and Halle Berry there…

Perhaps Jeans are Just Not in my Genes

African...

I have not been wearing jeans for the past two years. There are a number of reasons for this, the main one being that jeans are just not designed with my bum in mind. I shopped everywhere in search of that perfect fit that you hear about in these fashion magazines, to no avail. I happen to have the privilege of living in two hemispheres, so I took advantage of this by searching for the perfect fit in Europe and in South Africa. I tried everywhere, from high end designers like True Religion to outlets such as Mango and Zara.

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Curve ID by Levi’s. This range is supposed to accommodate all ‘ranges’ of curves…

My fit was nowhere to be found. My European size is 38, which I believe is something in between South African 32 and 34; and when it’s not jeans, everything size 38 on the European market fits me perfectly. Same as South Africa. I’m a size 32 and have been for a while. Now that thorn in my daily existence, a good pair of jeans, eludes me. I will try on a size 32 here at home, and everything will be going well until the thighs, exactly where my ATMs (African Trade Marks) commence. I refuse to wiggle, do the jumps, and use tactics against that hard fabric. I would prefer a single upward swift movement that leaves me with no drop of sweat. And I refuse to wear a size 34 that will create this loop above my bum that gives room for my crack to enjoy the lovely sunshine. Hell no!

In Europe I realised that actually designers don’t keep my African trademarks in mind when they cut denim around that contentious area. How would they? They are cutting for their market, whom let’s just say are not descendant of Saartjie Baartman. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my beautiful bum, but when it comes to these jeans from G-Star, Diesel, Guess, Sissy Boy, and even Levi’s, I’m left wanting. Levi’s thought they were getting on with the programme when they designed the Eva range, but PLEASE, Eva is still not of our ancestry. Those jeans still leave the crack popping out for attention, begging to be belted back in where it belongs.

Meh … that’s why I haven’t been wearing any jeans for a while now. Until very recently a shocking revelation came to me. Jeans are not what they used to be! I’m telling you. I have since the beginning of the year been visiting second hand clothing shops/vintage (find out why here https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/the-fabulous-vintage-age/), and have found in there clothes from the 90s and 80s; the quality, cuts, sizes, and design are impeccable, aesthetically sublime, and are to be emulated. I found second hand jeans and had a field day trying on various cuts and designs. I left with two pairs of great-fitting jeans, whereas two years of searching in these ‘modern shops’ had yielded nothing.

You see they don’t make clothes like they used to. Today sizes are smaller, reflecting a Western aesthetic that many do not even wish to comply to. The quest for size zero is on everyone’s minds, and is exacerbated by the sizes in the shops which are smaller than they used to be 8 to 10 years ago. Today you’ll hear more and more people complain about their body image precisely because of this conundrum: if you don’t subscribe to the Western aesthetic of beauty, you are functioning on the margins, with nothing ‘beautiful’ to fit you. Others choose to just force-feed the clothes onto their bodies, leading to extremely undesired results.

So I found two pairs of jeans from the 90s—one pair of faded Levi’s 501, and one pair of Diesel jeans—both size 31, and I paid €9.50 for each, which is equivalent to R250 for both pairs! They fit great and I must say I enjoy the functionality and basic nature of jeans. I have missed them in my wardrobe, but at the same time I’m not going to insert myself into a culture that so very clearly excludes me. I have been happy with designing African print pants and making do with them till now, and will continue encouraging others to just define, design, and reclaim an aesthetic of beauty that serves their booty bountifully.

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As you can see, no one of my ancestry is represented here…