Sportsmen and women from around the globe strutted into Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium for the official Opening Ceremony, last Friday, but it was the South African team that stole the limelight.
Many of the athletes came out flying their flags high even before the games officially began, while also parading their national regalia. But team Mzansi’s safari outfits did not receive the warm reception they anticipated back home.
The ladies were spotted in a printed romper while men rocked their printed shirts with matching shorts, paired with veldskoene.
The team’s outfit grabbed the attention of celebrities including Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung and Pearl Thusi who took to social media to express their disappointment.
Taking to Instagram on Monday, the “Idols SA” judge weighed in on the “fashion gone wrong” of the South African squad.
“Let's talk about the out SA Olympic Team outfit at the opening ceremony, who woke up and decided that okay let's do Nansi ingonyama bakithi baba (There comes a lion),” said Somizi, mocking the costumes by making reference to the opening song of Disney’s “The Lion King.”
In a video clip shared on his IG, the Metro FM star asked his 4,1 million followers to tell him what they think of the squad’s hideous uniform.
He continued: “I don't understand Swaziland, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, they were beautiful in their authentic cultural outfits...why do we always get it wrong? Tell me what you think guys cause I was not impressed.”
Echoing Somizi’s word, the “Queen Sono” actress Pearl Thusi tweeted: “So just to be clear - I hated the South African Olympic costume too but I have a question, Does this mean that only traditional costumes (as we have many) and designs represent South Africa well?”
So just to be clear - I hated the South African Olympic costume too but I have a question-— #QueenSono (@PearlThusi) July 26, 2021
Does this mean that only traditional costumes (as we have many) and designs represent South Africa well?
Thusi’s post sparked a debate with tweeps highlighting some of the burning issues, including the racial divide in the country.
“This outfits represents bad memories of our history,” write @Mlangeni_Mncube.
This outfits represents bad memories of our history— Owens (@Mlangeni_Mncube) July 26, 2021
“If Afrikaans is part of South Africa so as it tradition. This year Olympics we used Afrikaaners tradition, next Olympics will be someone else. Next question,” commented Twitter user @arsnatic.
If Afrikaans is part of South Africa so as it tradition. This year Olympics we used Afrikaaners tradition, next Olympics will be someone else. Next question.— Jack👏 🔥 (@arsnatic) July 26, 2021
“As black people in this country, our relationship with those colours isn't good. We can't be represented by the colours of oppression,” added @AgapeMutwa
As black people in this country, our relationship with those colours isn't good. We can't be represented by the colours of oppression.— AgapeTadana (@AgapeMutwa) July 26, 2021
Upcoming young designers Sandile Sikhakhane, Mbali Zulu, Nompumelelo Mjadu, and Sipho Lushaba were hand-picked by Mr Price Sport to design the opening ceremony outfits.
In a recent interview with IOL, the designers said they were given freedom to design what they thought would be outfits that the athletes would be proud to be seen in.
“It was a dream, there were no restrictions. They felt that if they gave us too many barriers, we wouldn't be as creative when coming up with the designs,” said Zulu.
All four designers were part of the 2020 Durban Fashion Fair mentorship programme.