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By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist

Thebe Magugu’s Heritage Series explores childbearing rituals in African cultures

Fashion designer Thebe Magugu is telling the story of mother and child through the eyes of some of Mzansi's ethnic groups.

Fashion designer Thebe Magugu can be described as a storyteller in the way he articulates narratives through fabrics.

Photos and stories of his family are uniquely adorned on some of his garb, but launching the second instalment of his Heritage Series the designer has decided to explore childbearing rituals and beliefs, through the eyes of nine South African ethic groups.

The Heritage Series will officially be launched next week but Magugu has been sharing the dresses on his Instagram.

“The 9 images illustrating each dress, to be released over the next two weeks, sees subjects carrying a multitude of objects on their heads, much like my own family, who swung between South Africa and The Kingdom of Lesotho,” wrote Magugu.

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“Seeing the women in my family have to carry children on their back and necessities on their head always reminded me of (incredibly chic) Afro totem poles; a showcase of utter strength both physical and symbolic and I wanted to pay homage to this memory.”

For this series Magugu has collaborated with visual artist Phathu Nembilwi who illustrated the mother and child on each dress.

The series also includes short essays by academics Dr Motshidisi Chauke (Department Of Health Studies, UNISA), Professor Joyce Mokoena (Department Nursing Sciences SMHSU) and Professor Mokgadi Matlakala (Department Of Health Studies, UNISA) explaining each culture’s folkloric childbearing rituals and beliefs.

“I invited women who have been a personal inspiration to me and are also leaders in their respective fields, across music, film, law, fashion, art and politics,” Magugu said in a post he shared on Instagram.

Some of the women Magugu used as his muse for the series include Nadia Nakai, Lindiwe Mazibuko, Pearl Thusi and artist Zandile Tshabalala.

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“Strength, as you will see in the artistic portraits that support this project, is a critical component of this project and the women here have shown it in such a sophisticated, powerfully feminine and graceful manner,” said Magugu.

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