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Keeping the Musisi traditional attire alive

2022-01-28  Staff Reporter

Keeping the Musisi traditional attire alive
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Terence Mukasa

Musisi-nam, a Namibian label that keeps the Musisi traditional attire alive and fresh by deconstructing it into contemporary ready-to-wear garments, aims to inspire young Katima Mulilo boys and girls that excellent things can come from their region.

Musisi, which means dress in Silozi, is a cultural attire commonly worn by the Barotse people found in the Zambezi region, Zambia, and Botswana. 

Owner and founder of Musisi-nam, Mwale Mazila (28) told VIBEZ! she chose the name Musisi because she believes it is what defines the Barotse people, adding: “I wanted something authentic and true to my roots”.

Traditionally, the Musisi consists of two skirts with a stiffened top layer to keep the shape of the dress.  It is worn with a matching blouse (known in Silozi as a Baki) and a small wrap, known as a Chali. When a girl reaches puberty, traditionally, her parents have to buy the Musisi outfit for her.  

Mazila acquired her fashion design skills from training received from the College of the Arts as well as the internet.

“I did three semesters at College of the Arts under the fashion design department but couldn’t continue due to personal reasons. I then learnt everything I know from YouTube,” she said.

Mazila said that she was privileged enough to have been exposed to fashion design, including what she has learned from reality television shows at a tender age.

She aspires to build a large ready-to-wear apparel clothing brand that will one day become a household name.

One of her customers, Batshwenyi Simataa said every piece that has been designed by Mazila has brought her joy and excitement.

“Mwale Mazila is an attentive fashion designer who understands her clients’ style and requests,” she said.

Simataa said the Musisi-nam’s collection titled ‘Successfully Laid Black’ presented at the MTC Fashion Week last year was vibrant, bold and unique.

On her runway experience, Mazila said the appearance was good, but getting recognition in this industry is difficult, especially when it comes to ready-to-wear clothing.

Another problem she faces in the industry is the unrealistic demands made by some customers.

“The customers bring designs that require at least two weeks to complete, however, they expect it in four days,” she said disgruntledly.

Mazila’s Musisi continues to excel in Katima Mulilo’s fashion market.


2022-01-28  Staff Reporter

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