THE XHOSA MOMENT: Laduma, Inxeba, Noah

What’s in your feed?!  News cycles tend to gravitate towards the latest megalomaniac antics of global power players. Underneath that thundering frequency, the world is enjoying the life-affirming vibrancy of quieter, subtler, yet more profound changes. Right now, the world is experiencing a glorious Xhosa Moment. Meet the South Africans making it happen: designer Laduma Ngxokolo, the Inxeba filmmakers and comedian Trevor Noah.

Laduma Ngxokolo. MAXHOSA by LADUMA. Fashion maverick.

The serenity of his physical presence in a space cannot be mistaken for disinterest. Laduma is a force conjuring a just new world to manifest itself through his life’s work. When style is born out of a trans-formative communal experience, it carries the type of heritage no fashion conglomerate can ever acquire. Inspired by his own desire for contemporary menswear suitable for the initiates undergoing the Xhosa rite of passage into manhood, Laduma set out to challenge the Tradition. The spellbinding Xhosa art patterns executed in superb mohair knitwear are taking over the wardrobes from Johannesburg to Tokyo and beyond.  He makes it all look … cool, preppy, dandy… nah. He makes it look like the future is brighter than anything you were ever taught. I swear, even his signature colorful socks must have bold side affects, including bravery in pursuit of dreams. During the inaugural Luxury Connect Africa summit in Paris, Laduma shared that at 32, the one thing he is focused on is neither retail expansion nor social media prominence, but legacy. He wants other and future South African creative entrepreneurs to thrive on their own terms. Surely, having Black Panther cast members wear Maxhosa at the film’s world premiere or getting a virtual shout-out from Beyoncé helps sustain his motivation? “Not long ago, one customer told me he put it in his will that he wants to be buried in my clothes. That’s more meaningful.” Mic drop. I’m telling y’all. Get the socks.

Writers & Cast. INXEBA (The Wound). Film revelation.

The Xhosa ritual that inspired Laduma Ngxokolo to take on the fashion world is at the heart of another major shift in South African and global cultural discourse. Inxeba is a multi-award winning feature film about… See, there are two types of film critics in the biz. Those who refer to it as South Africa’s Brokeback Mountain and those who label it South Africa’s Moonlight. Both are quick ‘n cute with their Americanization of diverse non-heteronormative experiences. The controversy over film’s authentic depiction of both indigenous spiritual practices and homoerotic sexual practices is raging across the nation grappling with the conundrum of (post)colonial traditionalism as its social modus operandi. Mind you, South Africa was the first country to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in its Constitution. In 1993. At the Luxury Connect Africa panel, Laduma mentioned South African gay community as instrumental in his success. They were among the earliest supporters of the brand. After the initial Inxeba release, the Film & Publication Board has retroactively (!) re-classified the motion picture as X18, a rating reserved for hardcore pornography. This denies Inxeba access to South Africa’s cinemas or even Netflix SA. Yes, there is outrage. Yes, there is a petition. No, this won’t hinder the emergence of a more nuanced and holistic view of human intimacy and ways in which people experience belonging. Watch the film where-when you can. Love who loves you.

Trevor Noah. Born a Crime. Comedian with(out) a Cause.

Admittedly, my first introduction to Xhosa culture came from the South African comedian Trevor Noah before he had taken over the host desk at The Daily Show. And yes, in part it was the distinctive melodics of the Xhosa language that sparked my interest. Born in secrecy to a Xhosa mother and a Swiss father in 1984, he was “Born a Crime” under the apartheid law. He documents his life in an affecting bestselling memoir and incorporates diverse African speaking modalities in his stand-up routines. Without exemption from constructive criticism of his comedic oeuvre, I welcome Trevor Noah as a contributor to The Xhosa Moment. #CrazyNormal #YouLaughButItsTrue

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