Fashion dominates Inauguration scene

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pretoria - While the inauguration of the President is the main focus of today's event, with the outfits that are being donned at the Union Buildings, from the trendy to the traditional, today's event can easily be mistaken for a fashion show.

From Armani and Fabiani to Freddie Boka and Marianne Fassler - fashion took a trans-Atlantic trip, adding touches of Africa and the world to South Africa's stage.

Members of Parliament, Ministers and other Heads of State are showcasing clothes from designers from local community outreach programmes as well as designers from the catwalks of Paris.

It is a mixed bag, wonderfully displaying South Africa's diversity.

From Gatsby 1920s outfits to African garb, hints of Chinese and plain chic two-piece suits, it was the woman of South Africa that best displayed the country's beauty, with a touch of the whimsical here and there.

Colours that shone through were sombre black, white, beige, brown and the more vibrant pinks, greens, yellow, oranges and blues. And the black umbrellas being upheld to ward off the rain, seems to be fashion statement on its own!

On entering the Union Buildings southern lawns, where the jubilant crowd is waiting to witness probably the most important event in the South African calendar this year, various traditional attire, including isiNdebele, Zulu, Pedi and Saris caught the eyes of visitors especially those who come from afar.

"I've decided to grace this occasion by wearing my traditional gear to show how proud I am of my culture. In that way people from other cultures who are attending the event could have an idea of how the Zulu's dress when attending important events especially this traditional one," Sandile Zondi from KwaNongoma told BuaNews.

Ms Smangele Radebe from kwaNdebele, who is wearing her traditional attire, including silver bangles covering half of her arms and neck, said she was a proud Ndebele woman and this was the best time to show off her attire at the inauguration ceremony.

"I thought it would be a good idea to wear my traditional clothing on this important occasion as I'm proud of my culture and wanted to use this big occasion to promote it.

"Most people turned their heads when I pass through them with some approaching me especially white people asking where I come from and where they could buy my outfit. This makes me proud and happy as it shows that they recognise and are interested in knowing more about my culture including my attire, which is beautiful," Ms Radebe said with a chuckle.

The event also promotes job creation for young people, who have been hired by various caterers.

For a 30 year old, Kgomotso Phiri from Johannesburg, who is surviving on part-time jobs, the event gave her an opportunity to earn a few bucks and be part of this historic event.

"It's unbelievable that I'm actually here and being part of this, I'm serving people with a big smile, while enjoying live music performances," she said told BuaNews.

Ms Phiri said that one day when she watches television and sees President Jacob Zuma, she would tell her son, who would be older, that she was part of the inauguration.

While enjoying live performances by various artists in the cold wet weather, the thousands of people gathered on the southern lawns of the Union Buildings are enjoying a hot Nandos meal, which has been provided by government.