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Clothing label honours Basotho queens


Mohalenyane Phakela

APPAREL outfit, Mlatz Afro Designs, has collaborated with Black Widow Fine Art Creations to create a brand that commemorates the lives and heritage of three iconic Basotho queens.

Queens, as the brand is called, honours King Moshoeshoe I’s mother Kholu, Queen Mantšebo who was Lesotho’s first and only female ruler in the 1940s and Queen ‘Mamohato Bereng Seeiso, the mother of King Letsie III, who was the patron of several charity organisations.

The monarchs’ faces adorn the design of the Afro-centric brand, which is also meant to promote Lesotho’s culture and heritage.

The designers, Molateli Talanyane of Mlatz Afro Designs and Liako Ntsoele of Black Widow Fine Art Creations, met in 2010 and forged a friendship that culminated in the collaboration.

According to Ntsoele, the idea for the brand was spawned by the glaring dearth of h information regarding the exploits of the three queens despite the pivotal roles they played in Lesotho’s history.

“The current generation only seems to know about the kings in Lesotho’s history, yet we have women who played crucial roles for our country to be where it is today,” Ntsoele told Xpress People this past week.

“The aim is to familiarize our youth with their history, especially women in an artistic and vibrant manner.

“I normally design ceramics, pottery and paintings with a feminine touch and when Mlatz pitched the idea of Queens, I was completely blown away as I am passionate about culture.”

On his part, Talanyane said, going forward, the brand would not only focus on the three queens but other monarchs of note.

“We started with these three icons who made an impact in Lesotho’s history, but we will not limit ourselves to them as the aim is to showcase all the African queens played a role in our history such as Queen ‘Manthatisi who led the Batlokoa army to Lifaqane war during Moshoeshoe I’s time,” he said.

“We will also feature Queen Elizabeth of England since Lesotho was once a British colony. It is also because our ultimate goal is to globalise the brand.”

The label currently produces t-shirts, side bags, sweaters, and pottery. However, the designers said they would also soon produce sculptures, fabrics and paintings.

Talanyane said they working on designing Queens branded Basotho blankets.

“Our biggest challenge is people who steal our designs although we are hopeful that we will not be victims of that kind of infringement,” he said.

“We also urged Basotho to develop an appreciation of local arts and crafts if the sectors are to flourish.”

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