The traditional dress for Ndebele men comprises a breastplate or “iporiyana”, which can be seen hanging from the neck down and has some of its symbolism in rites of passage into manhood, animal skin aprons, headbands and ankle bands, as well as a cape, hence the blanket worn by Mahlangu.
There is absolutely no room for nakedness. I cannot for the life of me believe that there was any show of private parts in Mahlangu’s attire because almost all African cultures especially in SA make provision for the covering up of genitals and buttocks in their traditional wear.
Even the largely misconstrued depiction of Africans pre-colonisation does concede that as “minimally dressed” as Africans were, they covered their private parts. This is despite the fact that most cultures were fully covered even long before the arrival of colonialists in Africa.
It would therefore be of great interest to be further enlightened on exactly which aspect of Mahlangu’s attire was of concern or offensive to “other shoppers”.
The association of African culture with boorishness has to be treated with the contempt it deserves whenever it rears its ugly head in SA.
The author is an initiated and practising spiritualist/sangoma/traditional healer, working in communications.