Johannesburg - Heritage Day came early this year.
Well, at least that’s what it looked like at the premiere of the Nigerian musical Kakadu at The Joburg Theatre’s Mandela stage.
It’s always refreshing when guests honour the dress code or theme of an event.
And that’s exactly what Mpho Osei-Tutu, Rosie Motene and Nomsa Mazwai, among others, did.
Traditional African attire was the order of the day.
From muted tones of Tswana apparel to loud Ghanaian wear, African pride was on display for all to see.
The most interesting part of the fashion is an issue that is playing out on social media right now: The appropriation of culture.
There are always undercurrents of dissatisfaction from the far left who maintain that only Zulus can wear ibheshu (loin cloth) and that the uxakatha (a small and lightweight blanket) should be limited to Xhosas. I say, boo!
What a refreshing sight it was to witness white ladies rocking Swati traditional regalia, while some Ndebele folk chose to forgo their colourful prints and opted for Tsonga gear.
It is when such African pride is visualised that you realise that we are all one, and it does not matter where you come from or what you look like.
Cultural appropriation gives parts of our society a licence to try something new and different, without being judged too harshly if they do not pull it off perfectly.
Think about our coloured brothers and sisters, what attire were they supposed to wear?
We all know the ongoing debate about how mixed-race folk supposedly have “no culture”, so being able to wear Tsonga traditional wear for some proved to be a stroke of creative ingenuity.
To give the night an authentic feel of Lagos, the foyer of the Joburg Theatre was turned into a mini market, where vendors sold African-inspired wares, including jewellery (neckpieces, bangles, metallic hoops, rings and earrings), traditional clothes, bags and multicoloured scatter pillows.
The first showing of Lagos’ Kakadu proved to be the most fitting way for the privileged to be exposed to curated, limited and, dare I say, “civilised” African culture, all within the safe confines of the Joburg Theatre.
Those in attendance seemed to enjoy it a whole lot more than they would have a few hours in, let’s say, Yeoville, Troyeville or any other “ville” that offers way more in terms of intriguing accents, traditional food and a glimpse into different ways of being African.
Kakadu runs at the Joburg Theatre until 18 June.