In the dusty streets of Mamelodi, rose two talented and extra ordinary fashion designers, Surprise and Africa Mabena were born and bred in Mamelodi, Pretoria. They are brothers and fashion designers, and they have been fashion designers from a very tender age. Fashion designing for surprise and Africa is a God given talent. They did not go to school to actually sit on a desk and study designing. The love of clothes, fashion and wanting to transform things, led them to becoming the best amongst the best local designers.
Surprise and Africa are the founders of Mothongo Nation, Mothongo Nation is their designing company. The name came after torn t-shirts designs that they made years back, they say Mothongo actually means ‘torn’. Instead of torn, they decided to go with Mothongo because the name connects them to their spiritual background.
Surprise and Africa say they like being unique and creative at all times; therefore, they use materials that are not costly or noticeable by other designers. They use materials, such as curtains, and old clothes that people do not wear anymore. They revamp them into something new, trendy and attractive; they also create bags made out of reeds. The brothers say they started creating these bags because they sometimes would run out of material to design attires. “We love working, so when we run out of material to design attires, we come up with other ideas to create something that will be valuable and less or non-costly in our spare time”-they said.
Mothongo Nation also specialize in custom-made designs. They start designs from scratch and they go an extra mile to give their clients what makes them happy. The Mabena brothers design what is comfortable for their clients to wear. Surprise and Africa remain consistent to keep their clients happy and coming back for more. They also design shoes from scratch, long as they get the idea of what their client is seeking.
The Mabena brothers are the co-founders of Mams market. Mams market is more like an event where designers and poets and anything to do with arts come together to showcase their talents. The reason behind the initiative Mams Market, was to sweep the streets of Mamelodi off the youth that are abusing drugs. “We value our community and we are trying to put our kasi on the map and unlock local talent by keeping our location active and bringing hope to the community”-Mabena brothers said.
They also run seasonal fashion show, Vilakazi Street (Mamelodi) fashion show and pop up stores at markets. Surprise and Africa have one mutual goal; they want to see themselves showcasing their designs in the Milan fashion week. The Mabena brothers say they want to teach the youth of Mamelodi that art is a very beautiful thing and it must not be taken for granted. They say if you have talent, do not put it under the table but put it on top of the table so that it can be seen.
By: ZANELE MAGAGULA