When you think about African representation in London, West African countries are often at the forefront. From hair salons in South London to fashion boutiques and music shops in East and North London; notable countries such as Ghana and Nigeria seem to have their stamp on Capital.
But what about southern African countries? How do they contribute to the Afro-centric arts scene that visually stimulates London?… That’s where Mzansi plays a part right in the heart of Central London!
As soon as I walked into their store, the two young men stood up, breaking mid-way through their conversation, to offer me a greeting. It’s rather unfortunate (or fortunate, in the case of these guys) that I’m easily impressed by the little things, such as good manners, considering the reputation London has for having bad Customer Service. I didn’t let the young men know it, but I liked them already…
I meet two of the faces behind Mzansi; young entrepreneurs Josh from Zimbabwe and Thato from South Africa, during my visit to the Mella Center over the weekend. Josh gave some insight to the meaning behind the name Mzansi:
“It means South in Zulu.. That’s because when the company began we started with southern African products then we expanded to cover most African products because the market was there.”
I’m no stranger to Mzansi. I came across the store last month when my eye caught the attention of one of their bestsellers – Africa carved earrings and Queen Nefertiti earrings, which I took with me on my trip to Egypt over the Christmas break.
Their South Africa and Zimabawe flag bejeweled t-shirts grabbed my attention on this recent visit however – I’m prone to liking a bit of bling now and then! Thato proudly displayed them to me.
Other unique things that caught my eye we the African print Snoods – perfect for making a fashion statement while wrapping up warm!
I spotted a few accessories from Ghana like the kente print Bowtie which happend to match perfectly with the attire of conscious brother Haile who also visited the store.
I left Mzansi as the young men were closing up for the day, on a a promise I’d be back again for more… And message from Josh and Thato – in the language they represent from Southern Africa!
Josh: “Huya ku Mzansi patinofaira nemavet mu oxford street… Gaya ka feeling faya…” #Shona language
“Come to Mzanzi where we have a good time in Oxford St…Feel good!”
Thato: “Woza emzansi uzogcwala ngomerchant,siphethe izinto eymasha phambili” #Zulu language
“Mzansi, it’s a brand, it’s a culture, it’s a lifestyle and most importantly it’s a family!!!”
Get warm Southern African hospitality from the Mzansi fam by visiting their store at the Mella Center located in London’s West End.
Are you reppin’ Southern African? Let me know which country you’re from!