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On 24 September, South Africans will be celebrating Heritage Day, a day that symbolizes the diverse cultures of people and what makes us all so proudly South African. “This Heritage Month, we would like to document our South African heritage in a modern, reflective style and add to the pages of our history through photographic preservation of who we are. #WeAreZA interprets the heritage story of six South Africans to create a powerful, visual representation that is unique to who that person is and what their story is all about. It was a great pleasure working with well-known photographer Lee-Roy Jason, who is well known for his visual storytelling and, in 2018, was the official photographer of the AFROPUNK Paris and stylist Kwena Baloyi, who is a trailblazer and cultural ambassador with a powerful force that breaks boundaries and gives the term ‘influence’ a whole new meaning. "Lee-Roy and Kwena assisted us in interpreting the heritage story of the six individuals and because no two people are the same, the outcome will always be different,” explains Ilana Mpiti at Standard Bank.
As much as people are multifaceted, so is their heritage. Our roots are different; we’re inspired and influenced by different things, and we all have our own traditions. We’re a multicultural society, and we’re multi-cultural individuals. African culture has a long history of not documenting its culture reflectively.
Through the process, we will unpack what it means to be South African but, more importantly, a South African who has been influenced and affected by the world. There are many things that heritage and culture are comprised of, and #WeAreZA aims to explore the nuances and tropes that make us different and celebrate them. “#WeAreZA is a visual spectacle rooted mainly in fashion and the different characters and personalities we will choose to engage with. Colour, fabric, traditional garb fused with present-day outlooks, and style will be the spine of our representation of these individuals. We plan to achieve this by talking to our talent and unpacking their lineage and their outlooks and fusing that into garments, backdrops, accessories, and make-up to create visual spectacles that will resonate as modern-day art with a strong multi-cultural relevance,” says Lee-Roy Jason, Standard Bank #WeAreZA photographer.
These are the three designers who will be working closely with Kwena Baloyi in assisting packaging this beautiful representation of our heritage:
Trendy Furbish is a 100% female-owned company that deals exclusively with creating fashion designs. They focus on unique, original, eye candy designs inspired by the African print, custom made to create and boost confidence with an everlasting ‘waa! factor’.
AfrikanSwiss is an urban lifestyle brand specializing in denim, using African inspiration on their garments to tell a story. The brand aims to give denim an authentic African twist.
Ntando XV aims to offer artisanal menswear clothing, with unconventional design. The brand aims to target the high-end retail market, garment collectors, and connoisseurs who appreciate the little details.
#WeAreZA aims to celebrate not only our individuality but also our collective heritage as South Africans and our rich diversity of food and music. There is nothing more South African than lighting a fire and cooking a meal with some great South African hits playing in the background, and this is something that crosses racial, cultural, religious, and social boundaries. To see the final pieces of the #WeAreZA campaign, check out the Standard Bank SA social media platforms on Heritage Day: @StandardBankSA (Facebook), @StandardBankZA (Twitter), and @standardbanksa (Instagram).
Below are the six individuals who will be photographed and profiled:
Nontombi Kuzwayo is a young, black Zulu princess navigating entrepreneurship in a male-dominated industry as a quantity surveyor. She is a unique blend from her Zulu father’s and Tswana mother’s heritage. Appreciative of the rich cultural diversity in South Africa, she easily welcomes the origins and heritages of others.
Lee-Roy Jason is a renowned South African photographer who celebrates his beautiful mixed heritage. His mother is Xhosa-Malay while his father is Tswana-Griqua. He began experimenting with photography the day his father gave him an old camera. His fresh perspective frames and highlights the poignancy of multi-cultural lives striving to find balance in socio-economic constructs that are uniquely African.
Marius du Plessis is a driven entrepreneur and team leader with extensive leadership and management skills. He refers to himself as an Afrikaans boytjie with a very boer-like heritage.
With proud Zulu roots, Mzilikazi Kumalo is a film director who has a keen interest in telling authentic stories. His appetite for new cultures and global trends translates into his work, which is culturally relevant and engaging.
Boitumelo Rametsi is a Soweto-based creative and founder of Spotted Beauty, a project that evolved from her personal Facebook page in 2012 to raise awareness around vitiligo. Her philosophy is about enhancing beauty, with the belief that what makes you different is what makes you beautiful. Hailing from a lineage of royalty, her heritage is rooted in the maternal Pedi side of her family. She connects with the paternal Xhosa side of her family when she prays with her clan names.
Treyvone Moosa is a non-binary mixed human with roots from Lesotho and Swaziland. Treyvone’s dad is Sotho and his mother is coloured. Treyvone is the editor of Exit, one of the oldest queer publications in Africa. The publication aims to open spaces for the LGBTQIA community with the aim of rejecting homophobia.
Standard Bank Group has a long and proud history. Since their inception in October 1862, they have made a significant contribution to the enhancement of Africa’s banking sector and general economic development, achieving many firsts while proving their stability and sustainability. Standard Bank draws great strength from the heritage, diversity, and creativity of all its employees.