This week Jambo Africa Online’s Publisher, SAUL MOLOBI, have a face-to-face conversation with the creator of the ‘Madiba Shirt’ brand, SONWABILE NDAMASE…
Saul Molobi: Okay. Thank you so much for finally making time for us to have this conversation. I know there’s a lot written about you, so I’ll be able to do desktop research if I need other information we may not cover. I have read so much about your accomplishments, but I think it’ll be fair to say: let me hear it from the horse’s mouth. Who is so Sonwabile Ndamase?
Sonwabile Ndamase: Sonwabile Ndamase is no longer a horse, I’m a donkey. So rephrase and say let’s hear from a donkey’s mouth…
Saul Molobi: That’s a nice phrase. Anyway, a donkey has biblical significance as Mathews 21 says: “`See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey…”
Sonwabile Ndamase: My point. That’s why I chose to be a donkey. Because I become a happy one because my path I tread is blessed by God, I put Him before everything I do. Without God, then I happen to be a lost donkey, not a special one that I hope to be. I feel special when God is with me.
Saul Molobi: Amen.
Sonwabile Ndamase: So, coming to your question I wouldn’t know what’s the right way of describing who Sonwabile Ndamase is. The only thing that I could say I am a child of my mom as I will always say, because I grew up under her care, love and wisdom. I was born in the Eastern Cape, where we are actually known as the princes and princesses of the Amapondo clan. Then within that particular space as I grew up, I grew up under a very tight, if I may say so, environment, an environment that was not conducive for someone to become prominent. But I always say thanks God I grew up in that kind of an environment which is the one that brought me to be who I am today. It’s like when Jesus was born in a stable where you find that it was smelly, it had all those kinda things and in the meantime this particular man was born to become a man of what he became.
Saul Molobi: That’s awesome.
Sonwabile Ndamase: I hope by using such an analogy that I don’t create the impression that I’m like Jesus. Mo, I’m only using that as a metaphor just to say most of us grew up in environments that were kind of awkward and difficult in which we used cows’ droppings to warm up our feet or decorating floors in our shelters. Yes, shoes were not part of the things that I grew up having. So things were tough for us. When we grew up, some of us didn’t even have underwears. We were wearing over-sized shirts and going to school like that. And there’s nothing that told you that was a taboo because that was what was available to us at that time.
Saul Molobi: Yes, those were the atrocities of apartheid spatial planning and its racist tyranny.
Sonwabile Ndamase: Cutting the long story short, I grew up in East London. Then my mom decided to take us out of the village to a township in East London, and that’s where we had a much better life so to speak. And then from there we had to relate to what we called an urban life – totally different from the rural environment we came from. And then I grew up in East London. At school I becane active in quite a number of extracurricular activities. And then I ended up finding myself back to the Transkei (a bantustan) again. Yes, there was also Ciskei. In high school in 1976 I then joined student protest politics against Transkei opting for an “independence” from South Africa. I was also very much involved in quite a number of community development projects. After our riots, I was banished from my school.
And I had to find myself back in Ciskei, another bantustan. My mom told me that I needed to get away of the township life. She was worried that I was becoming too politically involved and neglecting my studies. And then when I went to this new school, I found myself participating in too many activities and the school giving me too many responsibilities. I was even made a bell ringer, a class monitor, a pre perfect… I had to play rugby, soccer and just being asked to participate in many other school activities, including the school choir. So that was meant to keep me too busy not to think about politics. I do not know how they got that one through to me. But then leadership skills were always there. And then after high school, I found myself working for a clothing retail shop back in the Transkei. I enjoyed it because I became an entrepreneur as a photographer during my high school, making some money for myself. So I enjoyed sales.
And then I found myself being identified by another group of creative and artistic people from my area who were then based in Johannesburg, they then brought me to Johannesburg. And when I was here in Johannesburg, I started meeting Gibson Kente and many other actors in the townships. I met musicians such as Yvonne Chakachaka, you name them all. I worked with all those artists in Johannesburg – particularly after most of us moved into Hillbrow. used to work around in Hillborough in City. Coming from the Transkei I found myself fascinated by the skyscrapers, the buzzing streets and the hurly burly of the city. I experienced my own “Jim comes to Jo’burg” moment. I was fascinated by the many languages – including Sesotho that I had never heard people speaking before. So I dealt with language barriers. I remember meeting this Sesotho-speaking lady asking what time it was and I thought she wanted directions, and I just told her she was in Commissioner Street.
I soon adopted the local city fashion code, a Michael Jackson kind of style rolling my sleeves around my arms. I then decided to study fashion design. After I was accepted into that institution, I found that they were not passing the knowledge of our African aesthetics. They were not at all close to that. We were all taught about the European design epistemologies and so forth. But then I had already been in the industry, in the fashion retail industry, so I could see the gap in the market. By the way, by the time I quit my job at that shop for Joburg, they were already offering me an assistant manager position because I was good at what I was doing.
As I engaged with artists and people in the creative industry in Johannesburg’s cultural renaissance, I found myself in the filming industry. Yeah. Am I being an actor? Yeah. Am I being a model, modeling clothing? Yeah. I found myself doing quite a number of things and then I started to look back, I said, oh my goodness, multitasking. I used to do it at school, being a bell ringer, being a monitor, being all those kind of things. Now there I was finding myself doing so many odd jobs for survival. I was in it to make my mom happy. There’s so much to say, but I’ll pause to take more questions.
Saul Molobi: Okay, now let’s drill into the Sonwabile Ndamase brand, what does it stand for? What’s your brand promise and how did you establish it from all those different roles that you’ve been playing? What does it mean to us?
Sonwabile Ndamase: The brand actually means so many things. One of the areas that I was pushing into was the creative arts. I wanted to bring African aesthetics into the mainstream because I found that most of our designers, especially in Africa as well as in the world, were not at all given the opportunity of us being known out there in the mainstream. And so that meant as Sonwabile, having grown up in the rural environment and finding that the African aesthetics were not at all being recognised, I had to do something about it. And one of the things that I then had to do was to promote all what we have as Africans in this particular instance. I then had to think was was the best way of putting us in the mainstream? I imagined how the world could respond to my initiative. How could our own people in South Africa, Africa and the diaspora could appreciate what I was about to come up with. I pondered what was it that we could be remembered with by people across the world? And then I decided to create a brand that was going to stand out in the world. And guess what happened? I then created a brand, “Vukani” – which “wake up”. I then made a point that this brand, “Vukani Fashions”, could stand up?
Saul Molobi: That’s amazing, that’s sheer determination.
Sonwabile Ndamase: I then decided I needed to draw inspiration from a man whom I have been epitomising all my life. And that man was none other than civil rights movement leader, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. I thought about it and I remembered that this man once said: “I have a dream.” And I then thought of how I could develop a pattern out of this prophetic statement. And I decided to do nothing else but to plan to go to his home town, Atlanta, in the US. I had to visit his gravesite. That was 1993. I wanted South Africans to enter a new democratic epoch celebrating their cultural essence as a people affirming Afrocentric epistemology. I wanted Africans and those in the diaspora to do the same.
So I then embarked on a pilgrimage to Atlanta in 1995. I was humbled when the Mayor of Atlanta, Bill Campbell, when he declared as the host city they were declaring March 13 as the “Vukani Fashions Day” at the “1995 Fashion Extravaganza”. I was over the moon. This confirmed the Sonwabile Ndamase as an innovator, a creative thinker and a visionary. I then emerged as a sought after trend analyst while my feet remained grounded. I used my global perspective to source new ideas and try to perfect my craft into what I now become today.
Saul Molobi: For me, brand Sonwabile Ndamase speaks to the whole movement of Africans tipping into what Ngugi wa Thiongo described as “the decolonisation of the mind”. And in fact, this is the challenge that we are faced with right now where we need to find ways of Africans approaching life from an Afrocentric perspective where we dispel all the myths around Eurocentricism. So I think your brand is anchored right there and that’s why I have always admired and loved it. I’m glad you have mentioned Martin Luther King. Jnr as your source of inspiration. I didn’t know about this aspect, but then for many of us we know that you can’t talk about Sonwabile Ndamase and Vukani Fashions without talking about Nelson Mandela. And how did you encounter Nelson Mandela to an extent that ultimately you designed what has come to be known as the “Madiba shirt” brand?
Sonwabile Ndamase: I always drew my inspiration from Nelson Mandela. I first met mama Winnie Mandela. Then in 1990 I met utata Madiba after he was released from prison. We are from the same clan in the Eastern Cape. And so I used my royalty to introduce myself to him. I did tell him I was a fashion designer. Then one day he called me to say he wanted a garment that was user-friendly and light to wear but a combination of European and African aesthetics. The results was a shit that has made its mark in the world – never strictly casual, always buttoned to the top, classic as I always describe it and usually in bold pattern fabrics, that’s suitable in both Western and African settings, and exuding pride. The African print that I use in the collection of the Madiba shirt captures the mystery and pride of Africa and is rich in colour and details. They are an original design in limited edition fabrics.
So meeting Madiba at that time was one of those overwhelming moments in one’s lifetime. The shirts I designed for him made him stand out. But one of the things that people do not know is that those shirts I made for him were not meant to a fashion statement, they served a health purpose. When he was released from prison, he was already old and frail. He was not in perfect health.
So he informed me he suffered bouts of lung infections while he was incarcerated. So he wanted light clothes so that he could manage his body temperature. He asked me to design and come up with the kind of clothing that could be lighter but still be a bit conservative whenever he went into formal meetings with business people. He also said he was something that could make him accessible to ordinary people without making them feel intimidated. So then I started coming up with this kind of printed fabric which I outlined to him – it was an overwhelming opportunity for me. But funny enough, mama Winnie was one of those people who teased me immediately about my floral prints, and she said: “Hey my son, why are you dressing my husband with curtains?”
Saul Molobi: By the way, she was a fashion icon in her own right.
Sonwabile Ndamase: Absolutely, she was a fashion icon. Although she teased me about my floral garments, that started a new trend. When many designers saw my fabrics, they started to make floral designs. Anything that was floral became popular in our African communities. Although mama Winnie teased me, she just told me matter-of-factly that whatever I did for her husband, it had to make him feel comfortable. Guess what happened? My Madiba shirts became an iconic fashion statement as many other people started to consider and adopt the style.
Saul Molobi: And Nelson Mandela was the only one who deviated from the West Minister tradition to meet Queen Elizabeth while wearing your shirt. How did you feel? And each time when you are looking at that picture, what images come into your mind and what feelings run through your body when you see that photo?
Sonwabile Ndamase: One of the things that keeps on coming, and I always have, is an extremely overwhelming feeling – I feel like a child getting into a candyshop store seeing all the beauty around in there. The child wouldn’t know which one to take and they’ll end up trying to gallop everything at once. By the way, I was also invited as part of the entourage when Madiba was meeting the queen for the first time. Even when he was at the Dochester Minister Hotel, I was there as part of his delegation. I still have my table tag. I was there when he was giving the speech for the first time responding to the Queen’s.
I was just having that feeling that says “this is the place to die for or that I will die for this”. And I said to myself when I was in that part of the world with the queen, with him, with a the Duke of Edinburg, with all those other statesmen, actually even our current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, was in that delegation too, I felt highly privileged. I even have got a picture that I took with him when we were outside for a fresh air. Now it was one of those moments that I said: “My goodness me, if I die here my epitath will say I was here in this particular room with all these people”. The feeling I get each time I see photos of Madiba donning the shirt I designed is priceless. I get goose bumps each time I think this is the shirt that I’ve designed. This is a concept that I came up with. I cannot even stop feeling that out of the darkest dungeons of life, there emerged this man who has dressed the presidents of the new democratic dispensation of our African continent and this time around South Africa. And this man I have just given you his story that he came from a rural environment and from an ordinary woman who never knew who she was raising and he would grow to dress heads of states. So that is one of the things that keeps running into my head.
Saul Molobi: Yeah, I think, let me ask you this question. When you were saying to your mom that you wanted to be a fashion designer, what was her reaction? Because I know with our generation they always expected us to be teachers, nurses or police officers. And when you were saying I want to be a fashion designer, this was a very foreign career in African communities because we only knew about those mamas who were dressmakers and tailors, so what was her reaction?
Sonwabile Ndamase: Correct.
Saul Molobi: But they never saw themselves as fashion designers. Now here’s there was this guy who said he wanted to be a fashion designer. What was your mom’s immediate reaction to that?
Sonwabile Ndamase: Funny enough, my mom actually was a versatile, talented person. I’ve actually learned my craft from her because she used to mend our pants and mend our shirts and so forth and so forth from the house. I used to assist her by doing household chores, like cooking. So the word fashion designer was foreign in our communities. We just knew fashion tailors and dressmakers as well. Those were the words that were utilized in that era. I remember vividly that they used to tease me and thought that I was going to be gay. They said I was sissy. But I played rugby to prove I was tough.
Saul Molobi: So playing rugby was proving your masculinity element to those teasing you.
Sonwabile Ndamase: Indeed. I should think I was creating a perception of masculinity among the people. And I returned to the sport even after breaking my arm. The message I put across was: “Hey listen, I’m not what you suspect I am.” But I still continued doing what I loved more. At one stage I was even “Mr. Butterworth” as I was involved in pageants. I then thought the “look” industry was following me in my career path. So when I told my mom at a later stage that I had decided to get into the fashion industry, she exaimed: “Oh my God, I’m not gonna get any money from this man.” She didn’t understand that I was going to be an entrepreneur as a fashion designer. I remember the President of Transkei asking my dad and so forth in she never thought that there’s gonna be in Soma ine. Then every time when I had to visit the palace in Transkei on assignment, the bantustan president used to ask my dad: “What is this man who’s always around our women and he keeps on touching and measuring their figures? Why is he doing that?”
It was also strange to him finding a man carrying a measuring tape and measuring women’s sizes and all that. So it was still foreign to the elderly, foreign to my mom too. But at the end of day, I never got what I would call a support from my family because fashion design by males was foreign to them. So my challenge was to break the barriers?
Saul Molobi: We’ve been looking at the opportunities and the challenges you have faced along the way. You did a post on Facebook a while back about the costumes that you designed for a television production and then you also went into the traditional aesthetics talking about Amampondo differentiating them from the normal Xhosa tradition. Can you tell us about that? Because I found it very, very fascinating.
Sonwabile Ndamase: Yes. Earlier I told you that I’ve also been involved in the film industry. Once as an actor. But I was fascinated more when I was involved in the wardrobe design and selection of the clothes for different characters that have to be played. Now, funny enough, there is this producer who then said I have never been celebrated enough for what I’ve done for our country and the African diaspora. And then he said: “You know what? There is this production that I’m doing and there’s a section that I would like to see you featured in it.” And he kept on asking me what is the difference between Amampondo and all other Xhosa ethnic groups? And then I started to explain that to him and culture how its culture is because I come from the royal family. He then he said: “Okay fine, you’re onboard. Let’s see how we can develop a dialogue in that particular space and how do these people dress up. It will be your responsibility.” That’s how I got involved in that television drama as a costume designer. I then challenged myself: How can I take a wedding of Amampondo to the highest level in today’s world so that even a child who’s born in contemporary times will feel comfortable to embrace her own identity? And then I said: Yes, it’s fine. I will be able to pull it off. Then I started to craft a concept of a beautiful garment for a wedding of two cultures: a Muslim and marrying an Amampondo woman, which was a princess. So that’s already that I am, I had to create that, pardon me in that particular space in showcasing that we as Amampondo, we do have a culture and our culture as much as it is dormant, it is also a beautiful culture and even our language. Therefore I started to display it from that perspective.
Saul Molobi: What are the other challenges you met along the way? Because if especially young fashion designers look at you, they’ll think it was just very easy for you to just be right there at the top. What are the pitfalls that they could look out for?
Sonwabile Ndamase: There’s quite a number of challenges that one meets. If a person is not focused in whatever they’re doing, there will be a few or very slim chances for any particular person to succeed. You need as a designer to focus into your craft. Don’t rush for fame… rush for recognition… rush for popularity… rush for the media to catch up with you and so forth. First polish your craft. There is quite a number of pitfalls along the road. If you are entering our craft only for the fame, and glamour in particular, you are going to fail because you will be disappointed when you’re getting what you thought you would.
Take this craft seriously. This is the source of your livelihood. This craft will feed you, pay your rent, pay for your education and your family’s. Treat yourself as a business person within your craft. But many at times I picked up from these young and upcoming designers I made it after Mandela because I’m known as a Mandela man in terms of my dressing code, then they’ll ask how come I have never disappeared from the fashion scene after he was longer a president.
Saul Molobi: So they don’t know you were there before you started dressing him?
Sonwabile Ndamase: I was there before him, during his presidency, post his presidency, during the presidencies of Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma. Now is the era of Cyril Ramaphosa, and I’m still here and I’m saying to them: I am not aligning myself with any one president. My brand is not political in terns of it been anchored on a political personality cult. My brand showcases that Africans need to be themselves, self-affirming, not pretentious or been consumed by other cultures. Ensure whatever happens around you does not draw you into the hype. I see young designers failing because they rush things and cheat as they’re looking for fame, but when the lights are off, they can’t exist. They do not know in dark times there is also a silver lining that you need to look for because there’s still be another day tomorrow. So that’s one of the things that I keep on telling them that this is not a trade that you get involved with just for fame. It’s a trade that you have to get into because you want to become a business person and and most of the time I always say I’m doing a biblical job because after God had created Adam and Eve, they realised they were naked and had to be dressed.
Saul Molobi: So fashion designing started.
Sonwabile Ndamase: So my life is next to Godliness, so I have to clothe people when I see them naked. So it’s our duty to come up with the garment all the time and clothe our people.
Saul Molobi: Yes, fashion is your pastoral work… Okay, this takes us into you training many young designers. Tell us about your training programme.
Sonwabile Ndamase: Everyone who had worked with Madiba or endeavours to preserve his legacy, will always remember how much he valued the youth, how much he loved children. That’s why he established the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. He made it a point that young people had to be looked after. He encouraged to always consider that plight of the new generation. So I then thought of ways contributing to that legacy. And then I said I would love to do that by training them, meaning that whenever I speak to them, whenever I train them. I transfer skills to them. I’m giving them the hope to say that there is a silver lining in this dark cloud of poverty hovering above our heads. My training is accredited by the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing (FP&M) SETA (Sectoral Education and Training Authority). All I’m trying to do is to make it a point that these young learners cannot lose hope. This is an accredited training that will get them from level one into the next levels. And they can utilize the certificates or diplomas to look for design work or I mentor them to become independent designers.
Saul Molobi: I love the second bit because there are no jobs out there. Developing entrepreneurship among the youth is critical.
Sonwabile Ndamase: I said to you in the beginning that we once had a challenge of going to school without having uniforms to wear. Now I’m linking these young graduates from my training to the Department of Social Development so that they can start making a living out of what they’re craft. So they start by designing school uniforms. We open our studio for them so that they can also meet the targets as per the specifications given by the institutions.
Saul Molobi: This is excellent. This will also help break the monopoly in the school uniform sector.
Sonwabile Ndamase: This year we were given about 60 learners to look after. After imparting practical skills to thrm, I created a space for them so that at a later stage they can go and be in a position of becoming independent entrepreneurs. I don’t regard them as what others will say as competitors. Some people can’t teach them because they are afraid these young designers will do the same thing as them. Hey, if you know the essence and value of your brand, no one will steal it. Yes, so many people have copied a jean, they’ve called it in all other names, just only to get the slice in the marketplace, but the design styles are differentiators. So that’s why when people attempt to copy my work, that doesn’t shake me at all. Instead it makes me happy I did something great worth emulating. If they can do it better, let them do it. If they can make money out of it, let them do it. But I’m confident nobody may duplicate the DNA of brand.
Saul Molobi: Then tell me about your partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and also a number of mainstream retail outlets that made your products more accessible to many people.
Sonwabile Ndamase: I have quite a number of interesting opportunities that actually have come through. We have a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Museum, which we also assist in their educational programmes. part in Yes, we also collaborate with the Nelson Mandela Foundation in their youth empowerment initiatives. We’re going big in fibre processing and manufacturing.
Saul Molobi: This year you conquered the Milan Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week. Tell us about this experience because those are the fashion capitals of the world and there you were flying not just South African flag but the African flag.
Sonwabile Ndamase: I must say that if you are maintaining originality in anything that you are doing, the world will always see through you and want to know what’s the best way to take you into the right places. So Fashion Week International spotted my work – my beautiful fabrics and my African aesthetics. By the way, the one trait I learned from Madiba is to lead from the back by empowering people around you. So I always do things from the back. Madiba said there’s more value from the people you are leading when they are doing the best out of what you have taught them to do. So while preparing for the Milan Fashion Week, I thought carefully about how I could mesmerized them by celebrating my African identity, my continent, on a European platform. It was like an inspiration from mama Winnie. I decided I couldn’t impress those Europeans by trying to mimick them, so I had to maintain my originality. I wanted them prickle their eyes in disbelief seeing that Africa has arrived I needed my own knobkierie to take with – and my Africanicity became it. My garment wowed them during the opening the closing high couture line which I showed. And I also took the Madiba shirts as they are what I have come to be known for. My collection was a wow as I showed them what they have never seen before. And I did it and I was happy.
Saul Molobi: I was so excited when I saw you on social media because Milan used to be my territory when I was there as South Africa’s Consul-General driving economic diplomacy. And the reason why I was so excited is because I knew that it’s quite difficult for anyone, especially from Africa, to break into that circle. I was so excited and I said yes, finally one of us has made it and it’s worth celebrating not only by South Africa but the entire continent. This should take us into focusing on your dream for the continent because we are now talking about integrating Africa into one free trade area through the African Continentinrntal Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). We are breaking all these barriers so that we could be able to boost intra-African trade. What’s your dream for the continent and for your brand making inroads across the entire continent?
Sonwabile Ndamase: Fortunately enough, I have mentored some young guns from our African continent through a brand that I used to carry up, which was called Red Carpet African Designers’ Awards. It undertook that project for five years and I was traveling to about 10 countries and discovering and mentoring the young designers. I had a competition that I was doing in Ghana. I had a competition in Tanzania, Mozambique and so on and so forth. So I have made some inroads in those particular countries and it’s amazing how much red carpet was rolled for me when I went into those places.
Saul Molobi: Yes, now you have to target all the 55 African countries?
Sonwabile Ndamase: I have done a lot of scenario planning in expansion of the brand presence in international markets. I have also met people that were very much interested – particularly fashion buyers for international retailers. And we have done quite a number of projects for the international market. I have started to wet their appetite. They’re already wanting to find out how they can have a piece of my pie on their platforms. I’ve just been invited by some from New York that I met in Milan. This won’t be new because I have participated in the New York Fashion Week before. By the way, I’ve been to the Paris Fashion Week before where I met Daniel Hechter. So I am into those particular platforms in the world. So that’s the beauty of what I’ve done around the world and my African countries.
Saul Molobi: For me, the interest in you is that what sets you apart from everybody else across the continent is that you communicate African aesthetics in a post-modernist way – the African idiom is right there in the DNA of your brand. As my new book is titled “De/constructing brand Africa: A Practitioner’s Perspective”, I would say we need to talk about taking the Red Carpet African Designers’ Award, resources allowing, to all the regional economic capitals – South Africa for southern Africa; Kenya for eastern; Nigeria for western; Central African Republic (CAR) for the Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS); and Egypt for the northern Africa region. Yes, we could be forging integration through fashion. Right now besides my publishing business, I’m now hosting a jazz music programme on 101.9 Chai FM in which 90% of the music is jazz from the Africsn continent.
Sonwabile Ndamase: Yes, that’s doable…
Saul Molobi: I’m looking at you from a branding perspective because I’m a branding specialist. I look at you as “House of Brands”. You are not like Georgio Armani as he has adopted this monolithic branding approach where every sub-brand starts with Armani – he has Armani Collezioni; Empório Armani; Armani Exchange; and Armani Prive. I see a collection of few sub-brands. Sonwabile Ndamase is a brand and should be given due recognition; then Madiba Shirt; and Vukani Fashions. So I’m just looking at your house of brands. And I think along the way you also need to develop interconnections and interlinksges between these three sub-brands. By the way, there’s also a training programme and the Pan-African project. You may then, like every house of brands, target a particular sub-brand to a specific market segment. I think this is what you could be looking at going forward. My concern for now is you’re not deriving maximum value out of the Sonwabile Brand.
Sonwabile Ndamase: That’s an excellent proposition. Although I’m a creative person, a visionary, comfortable in what I do, I do need to collaborate with experts that see beyond what I’m doing to take my brand to higher echelons. I need to have those kind of networks – people like yourself. I would like us to take this conversation to the next level and see what’s the best way of starting it. Because you have already what you have created, what you have put out there as books, how do I then draw my inspiration from what you have already done as a reference? I am not into that kind of space, but having a relationship and a collaboration with people like yourself. I should think we can do that.
It can happen. And I’m glad we have people such as you who would like to align us in the right direction. I am so thankful that this moment has come to what it has become. And I’m happy that we may start with all what we are saying, this kind of branding. We will create something sustainable for the new generation from which they can learn how to maintain this kind of brands. While anchored on our arts and culture, adapt it a bit to give it an international flavour. So I leave it unto you.
Saul Molobi: Thank you so much my chief for this opportunity. Yes this conversation will be carried on all our platforms – including YouTube and Jambo Africa Online. And yes in the next few days we will catch up for coffee and we start plotting about how do we tap into all these opportunities that the operationalization of the AfCFTA is opening them up for all of us, particularly South Africa being the most industrialised economy and the third biggest economy on the continent. Indeed, brand South Africa is still quite very positive. But we now need to look at brand Africa as a whole to say how do we take it across the world. And yes, you are the best person who could anchor such an initiative to change the negative perceptions that persist on Africa across the entire continent and the world. Thank you so much.
Sonwabile Ndamase: My hand is up. Don’t forget. (Laughs). Thank you.
Saul Molobi: Thank you so much for the opportunity. Thank you so much.
Sonwabile Ndamase: I appreciate it. I appreciate sir.