Politics made wearable

By Geri McMeekin

Pic by : Ashton Faulds

Take a closer look next time you pass the green stall, with interesting-looking items that pop up sporadically by the arch. The garments for sale are proudly South African pieces of clothing and accessories with a message – African dignity with a strong Rastafarian influence, spreading the message of ‘One Love’.

Portrayed on an array of t-shirts, bags and dresses are prominent figures such as Che Guevara, Oliver Tambo, Bob Marley, Madiba and Jimi Hendrix. “They are representatives of peace, figures who bring inspiration to any nation, no matter the race or money,” says salesperson, Junior Mahluli.

Mahluli speaks in detail about his life as a Rastafarian and the messages which he tries to spread. “Equality is foremost in Rastafarian culture,” he says. His culture is “universal – we all want one love, no matter what country we from. The common goal is equal rights and justice,” he adds.

Mahluli and his partner began their clothing careers by decorating jeans and leatherwork in Cape Town several years ago. The original style had more of a punk influence, with leatherwork adorned with studs and zips, but the duo eventually decided to turn to African inspiration in order to stay true to their roots. As performing artists in music and drama, they were able to meet with many other creative types and find the inspiration which has led to the clothes they sell today.

“In this Rastafarian culture, money does not define who you are,” says Mahluli. In fact, he says it does not even feature. “[People] with money treat everyone the same. We’re all the same.” In Rastafarian culture, the idea that we are all different and yet all equal is central, and this is what the icons on the clothing represent. In this world, everyone needs to look up to someone, some figure to aspire to. Mahluli and his t-shirts suggest to us a better direction and give us a deeper understanding of humanity.

So, if you pass through the arch and see Mahluli and his amazingly tall headscarf, containing years of dreadlocks, try having a chat. It’ll make your day a lot more interesting.


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