Stories about the Soweto youth subculture known as izikhothane have reached distant shores. RA’EESA PATHER reports.
Slate Magazine this week published a story in its Roads & Kingdoms series detailing the doings of young skhothanes who blow thousands of rands on posh clothing and accessories – with some even going so far as to burn their possessions and their cash – in a bid to gain respect and renown.
Skothanes, for those far removed from the doings of young people in Jo’burg’s south and the pages of the Daily Sun, are Sowetan youths who like to dress smart and spend big. The name skothanes derives from the Zulu word “to boast”.
Whether they’re showing off their moves in dance-offs, or boasting about the expensive price tags on their clothing, skothanes make sure people know who they are, and they’re not the only group doing it.
“Dress and swagger and what you wear in Soweto is extremely important because it defines not just your income, but your character,” VuyolwethuMpantsha told Slate‘s correspondent, who explains that for the young and restless in Soweto, expensive fashion and cool kicks are a physical manifestation of their aspirations. Apartheid may have ended, but almost 50% of the youth is unemployed.
“In absence of money or much chance of upward social mobility, skhot-ing gives [young people] social currency, which has a certain value in itself,” she writes. Skhot-ing brings girls, recognition and paid appearances at weddings, parties and funerals.
In Soweto, this is how some young people are changing their lives.
– Image via the Izikothane Facebook page