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Xhosa Tradition Inspires DUT’s Best Range on Show

Xhosa Tradition Inspires DUT’s Best Range on Show

Choosing the 2016 DUT Fashion Show’s Best Range on Show winner proved to be a difficult task for the array of judges who had to look at whose range best fitted the post-apocalyptic scenario with a multi-cultural ethos, simplistic, sustainable and beyond the gender bias.

Despite the challenge, Nivadni Sewnath scooped the Best Range on Show award, beating 20 candidates who had made it to the finale, with her Abakwetha collection which, according to her artist statement, “is an After Earth journey informed by the Abakhwetha blanket sgnoifying a return to our roots After Earth”. Ulwaluko, traditional circumcision and initiation into manhood, is an ancient initiation rite practised by the the Xhosa people. The ritual is traditionally intended as a teaching institution, to prepare young males for the responsibilities of manhood.Therefore, initiates are called abakhwetha in IsiXhosa; aba meaning “a group” and kwetha meaning “to learn”. 

Themed: After Earth, the annual DUT Fashion Show, hosted by the University’s Fashion and Textiles Department, was held on Friday night (30 September) at the DUT Fred Crookes Sports Centre, Steve Biko Campus. Themed: After Earth, this year’s Show challenged 35 Fashion and Textiles students to explore their own vision of our next world through their respective fashion ranges.

Upon hearing the news of her win, a shocked Sewnath could not believe it as she had never won anything in her life before. “All I can say is that it involved a lot of hard work as I had to dip-dye the garments, stockings, insert the pins and ensure the masks correlated with each garment,” she said.

Her passion for Xhosa culture, especially the usage of the Xhosa initiation blanket to keep young men warm when they go to the mountain during the Xhosa tradition of Abakwetha, is what drove her to do more research into the tradition as well as give her direction as to how best to use her research material into the form of her award-winning garments. “I wanted something African and the Xhosa culture immediately caught my eye so I went ahead with it,” she said.

Besides looking at completing her BTech studies in Fashion and Textiles at DUT, Sewnath hopes to also use her fashion flair to give back to the community by sharing her skills with other creative and aspiring community fashion talents. She hopes to also look into opening up her own fashion brand in time to come.

– Waheeda Peters

Pictured: Nivadni Sewnath wins Best range for her Abakwetha collection that emphasised a Xhosa initiation ceremony through the cultural roots of blood and pain.

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