Showcasing the real Africa
10 QUESTIONS with MAKANAKA TUWE Makanaka Tuwe is behind Africa on my Sleeve, a fashion show and art exhibition to showcase the many different faces of African design and culture. The central Auckland student moved from Zimbabwe to New Zealand as a 10-year
1. Describe what Africa on my Sleeve is all about in 140 characters or less.
Africa on my Sleeve is a celebration of African inspired fashion and art. It is a look at a culture that isn’t celebrated in mainstream media in New Zealand. 2. What are you hoping achieve?
I am hoping to increase the visibility of the African culture in New Zealand. At the same time it is about showcasing these talented individuals and providing a platform where they can express their creativity. 3. You say you are looking to remove the cliches and stereotypes of African culture. What are these and why do you think they exist?
Africa is a continent that is associated with negative connotations. The media has sold this image of Africa as a place where there is poverty, war, diseases and famine. Rarely do you ever see a report about Africa where the continent’s richness, the city life and architectural genius is highlighted. All this has ultimately resulted in the
to African culture being one that is dark, evil and demonised. 4. How would you describe African design?
When I think of African fashion and art I think colour. It is very vibrant. Some of it is based around brightness, some of it on the village life, some of it on the woman’s traditional role and most of the time it is earthy. When it’s earthy it is based around the earth, the safari, the richness of Africa’s minerals and natural landscape. 5. If you could choose just one item to symbolise this design, what would it be?
This would be a very difficult task due to the variety in design. The continent is made up of 54 countries, each with different cultures, tribes and languages. As I am from Zimbabwe, I would choose a sculpture with the Big Five. The Big Five are a group of the following animals: Lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. 6. What was behind the reason to feature New Zealand born designer Lucy-Mae GoffeRobertson and Thai born Lucie Sutichinta in Africa on my Sleeve? How do they fit into the mix?
I strongly believe in diversity and inclusion of all. It is to give those who are attending the event some added flavour as both designers will be basing their designs for the show on the African culture. When I was growing up in Zimbabwe I was surrounded not only by people who looked like me but by people who looked like Lucie and Lucy-Mae and people from all over the world. That element shows that not only has Africa inspired Africans, it has also inspired people who aren’t from the continent. 7. How has your upbringing in Zimbabwe and then here in New Zealand shaped who you are today?
It has shaped me to be a person who is in love with their background and where they are from and to be a person who is proud of their cultural identity. 8. How important was it to your family to maintain a strong sense of your African roots?
It is very important to my family to maintain a strong sense of our African roots. When I moved to New Zealand, I could not write Shona or speak the language fluently but when I realised how unique, beautiful and the importance of my culture I soon learned how to fluently speak the language, read and write it. We have also stayed connected to our roots by visiting Zimbabwe a few times and immersing ourselves into the culture. 9. What’s next for you?
What I am hoping to achieve next is an online store were people purchase items from the African designers in Australasia. Sort of like a hub for African art and design in this section of the world. 10. Who or what inspires you?
I don’t really have a style icon as I like to believe that my style changes depending on the occasion or my mood. I would say that my style or what I like to see is vintage pieces, unique and bold items. At the moment I am inspired by everything around me especially the weather and nature.
Bold plans: Makanaka Tuwe wants to see African design on the Auckland stage.