Due to Nelson Mandela’s death in December, our last project of the academical year is always Mandela related. In remembrance of him and the beautiful batik silk shirts he used to wear, we are designing our own Madiba shirts with our learners. We started the project with some introductory sessions on who originally designed the shirts and how Nelson Mandela came to wear them.To explain the historical context in which all this happened was very important to us. The first Madiba shirt was originally designed by the fashion designer Desré Buirski and given to Mandela as a present when he visited Cape Town. She handed it to his bodyguard with a note attached saying “Thank you for everything you have done and the sacrifices you have made for our beloved country”. Mandela wore the shirt the next day to the dress rehearsal for the opening of Parliament, and was photographed on the front page of a local newspaper. Since then, Buirski had made him more than 120 different shirts. Buirski’s shirts became Mandela’s signature dress style and an important factor in his political strive for a united South Africa.
We looked at the different colours, patterns and discussed their meanings in several blog posts:
“I like this shirt because it represents African colours.The fabric it is made of is beautiful and the colours that are in it are bright and attractive. It reminds us of Madiba as our hero. Anyone can wear it anywhere.” -Landu Xoliseka, Archie Mbolekwa SP School
“The reason why I like Mandela’s shirt is because it describes our cultural clothes and I also like him because he fought for our freedom. He gave us free schools, free hospitals, free clinics and he gave us love and care. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is the father of our nation and he loves us. We love you back TATA.” -Lugodlo Asanda, C.M. Vellem Primary School
“What I like about the shirts is how they are done. Their colours and the way they glow. The person that did those shirts was really creative at designing. Those shirts represent us as African people and they represent our culture. They remind us of our history as South African people.” – Sompani Lisakhanya, Archie Mbolekwa SP School
The next step was to design and paint our own shirts with our learners based on what we had learned before. We ended the term with a little fashion show where our learners presented their shirts. Since this was our last big event before the Christmas break, we decided to donate the shirts to the nearby orphanage “Home of Joy” that we have worked with before for the International Day of Peace. This time, it will be within the context of a global event called #GivingTuesday, which kicks off the charitable season and focuses on doing good and giving back to the community.
On behalf of the kids and everyone involved in this fantastic project, we would especially like to thank our donor VetVital for their generous support. Thanks to their involvement, we were able to buy enough shirts for all the kids, including the fabric paint and to organise the fashion show where we offered snacks and drinks as well. Thank you so much and wee are looking forward to our future cooperation.