South African star Sho Madjozi is as famous for her colourful style as she is for her high-energy songs. But as she told me, there is more to her pompoms and full skirts than fun.
She grew up in rural Limpopo amongst Tsonga women who would wear longer versions of the xibelani skirts she has made famous, and she decided she wanted to bring her culture into the 21st Century:
Quote Message: When I came out I was wearing the xibelani but in my way – of someone who lives in Johannesburg. I’m a young, urban South African. I’m not living in the rural areas any more, so I wanted to take my culture and make it represent me now.”
Quote Message: I don’t blame young people for sometimes running away from tradition… Why would I dress like my grandmother? I think we’ve been so traumatised by colonialism that we just tried to preserve culture almost at the point where colonialism started, forgetting that it was evolving.
Quote Message: My granny was not dressing like her mother. I think the threat of us losing our culture to Western influences has made it that we just protect it. We just hold onto the way it was then, instead of letting young people also evolve it and change it.
Quote Message: I got a lot of backlash, [with people saying]: ‘Is she allowed to wear it like this?’.
Quote Message: But I think the only way culture will survive is if we are allowed to make it our own, and make it current. We must change culture, it’s the only way.”
Sho Madjozi is making a documentary about the xibelani. She’s also just been signed by Epic Records from the US.
We hope that she is not asked to change her very African, very contemporary style.