Second year journalism student and risk-taking entrepreneur Thothy Thokozani Dladla recently introduced his new brand of clothing, Africa 1st , to Rhodes University. Dladla describes this project as more than just a clothing line; it is a movement. Africa 1st targets the African youth who are keen on embracing and celebrating our continent. He uses the term ‘African’ here to describe all people who live in Africa, regardless of race.
The birth of Africa 1st came out of Dladla’s recognition that there is a gap in the market where African products are concerned. He acknowledges that “as Africans, we don’t have our own clothing label which is purely defined by the African continent. One that is made by and for Africans.” His new clothing line can be described as an authentic brand which celebrates Africa. He believes that we can embrace our continent by avoiding vanity in brands named after people, and instead wear a brand named after the continent to support and promote the African agenda.
Dladla describes the African agenda as the concerns and issues of Africans. In his view, the African agenda includes land issues, decolourising the institutions and our minds, empowering women, and creating an equal society. These concerns are written in the form of short phrases at the back of the t-shirts and hoodies, for example: “Amandla ngawethu”, “You strike a woman, you strike a rock”, and “The African Pride”.
With all his life’s savings, he embarked on his Africa 1st journey in the attempt to bring uniqueness to the current clothing market. “It’s not about your street or your city, it’s about the continent. We must start to support African brands,” he expressed. Dladla asserts that when an African is selling the same thing as an American, we should support our own and help one another grow within Africa.
In the future, he is hoping to host talks about the rich history we have as Africans at schools around the country. At the moment, Dladla heads up the business by himself but is keen to grow and expand his business outside of Grahamstown. His product list is as follows:
- T-shirts, navy and black: R160
- Hoodies, grey and black: R350
- Berets, black: R150
- Straight caps, white and black: R130
With endless faith in his movement, Dladla is sure to dominate the African market one day. What he has created in Africa 1st is admirable to say the least. Not only has he made great products to wear, but has created a brand with an incredibly important message.
Follow the Africa 1st page on Facebook for more information on this movement and to place orders.