A Story of a Brown Jacket and the Coming Together of Two African Brown Skin Girls
Tshepiso Maebela is a Johannesburg-based fashion designer. Her garments are created for others and because of who she comes from. Elsie’s Studio is a family business that focuses on custom designs and tailoring services. It was established in 1988 and the door is open for all of us to enter. Enter here: https://www.instagram.com/elsies.studio_/
We are the chapters to the stories of our ancestry. The arrangement of our facial features are narrations of the voices of the men and women whose bodies have departed. These are the people whom we will meet in the spiritual realm. When we arrive there, when we shake their hands and thank them in person, what is it that you want them to carry in their souls?
What is it about you and the work you offered to those who reside in this Earth that they will put in the little pocket of their souls?
Is it what you write? Will the poetry written in your mother tongue sit eternally in a great great grandfather’s soul?
Is it what you sew? Will what your fingers do when they meet at the unraveling of a hem travel beyond the coming of a kingdom and sit in the center of who birthed you?
I imagine that when we arrive, me with what I have penned and you with what you have done, Tshepiso Maebela will bring in abundance everything her hands have put on others’ backs. This is a story I will take home to vhoMakhulu when I arrive home. It is my penmanship of the story of the brown jacket that comes from Tshepiso’s hands.
At a few minutes to five in the evening, on the 8th of March 2021, there were little brown skin girls within me who pleaded to wear a jacket of a cocoa-stained hue. And a choir of the women who birthed women who gave life to who birthed Tshepiso sat within her. From where they sat within Tshepiso, these women pointed towards where the brown skin girls within me pleaded. It is because of Tshepiso’s ancestry that there is a brown puffer jacket that hangs in my closet. Without the hands she inherited from the women before her, there would have been no hands to sew the fabric. Tshepiso learned to sew from her grandmother and this is felt. When she placed the puffer jacket in the palm of my hands, I felt the hands of women who pour every drop of themselves into garments.
When I wear the jacket, I wear the footprints that represent the roads that Tshepiso has travelled on her journey. My back is clothed in hues of fabric and the colour of her ancestor’s answered prayers. The zip shelters more than just my body. It is the closed doors to what she carried inside when she sketched the design (0f the jacket).
I wear a part of her; the jacket is the outpouring of a brown skin girl’s dreams. And the jacket is just a story in the anthology of the fabrics that her hands breathe life into.