NewsSouthern AfricaTrendhunter: Heightened history


Posted on Thursday, 23 August 2018 15:15

Trendhunter: Heightened history

By Lidudumalingani in Johannesburg
Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters

On the day Black Panther opened in Rosebank, Johannesburg, moviegoers dressed in traditional outfits poured in and out of the cinema in a modern exodus, singing as they went.

That the film’s costumes were inspired by Sotho, Zulu and Xhosa clothing and the main characters spoke Xhosa aided its course on the continent.
Indeed, Black Panther became a catalyst for conversations about how the African youth have returned to their traditional clothing. 
In all its glory, the film carries the narrative that the continent will not have advanced much in the future – a view from outside that does not reflect how designers and architects are already reinterpreting African heritage.
Ninevites, a company that makes mats from mohair, reimagines familiar patterns that existed many centuries before its founder, Nkuli Mlangeni, was born.
MaXhosa, the clothing line owned by Laduma, transposes ­Xhosa-inspired motifs to knitwear. 
The architecture in Black Panther was striking but no more innovative than the work of architects like David Adjaye, Francis Kéré, Kunlé Adeyemi, Ilze Wolff and many others, whose designs not only overturn the expected design style of African architecture but take into account that practicality is primordial, here more than anywhere else.
Old history that has been heightened
Even in popular culture, one can trace trends that are both returning to something and advancing it.
Ghanaian rap duo FOKN Bois draped African cloths over their shoulders in their video for the song ‘Broken Languages’. That this should be seen in hip hop music is remarkable. 
In all the talk about what is ground-breaking about Black Panther and how this has been magnified, it would be a mistake to think of it as the moment in which it completely captures African trends.
This is not a new history. It is an old history that has been heightened, and one that continues to be in the various trends that young Africans are embracing. 
This article first appeared in the June 2018 print edition of The Africa Report magazine

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