By Relo Malepe
Who is Fikile Jimmy Souljah?
The third son of four, parented by late Moola and Nomvulaza Mokae. I was named after my mom’s father, the late Fikile Jim November. I was born in Taung, in the North West, raised by my mom’s parents in the Free State in a small town, Hertzgvill. At age 14, I moved to Randfontein, west of Johannesburg to live with my mom and siblings.
Why Jimmy Souljah?
Jimmy is my middle name, Souljah is self-given. Which means warrior of God.
What drives you?
The need to empower my family and community makes me want to do more and work hard to achieve economic independence so I can fulfill this passion. It is more of a purpose.
I always choose to answer this question by quoting Georgio Armani “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I will be a fashion designer, fashion chose me”
Running a small business on it’s own is a challenge I have to face on a daily basis. That’s one. Second, economic struggles are real. If it weren’t for money, I would be travelling my entire life.
What impact does your job allow you to achieve?
Fashion is art, and art is a great tool one can use to air their inner views and most importantly, it is self fulfilling to see someone beautifully covered by the work of my hands. It’s priceless.
When did you realize fashion is how you want to make a living?
When I enrolled for a fashion design course I didn’t know it was something I could do for a living. For me it was doing something rather than staying at home. I was encouraged by my lecturer to give it my all even if I did not like it. From then it’s been about passion.
Advice to others?
One, you don’t need a background in sewing to begin or train as as fashion designer. Anyone with a learning attitude can do it. Secondly, be prepared to be your own boss; that includes a lot of hard work for you to be your own designer.
How about the Indonesian-inspired trend you want to introduce?
Yes I’m launching my brand later this year. My inspiration comes from African traditions. I love colours, prints and patterns. So Indonesian Batik and our original African prints. It is a fusion of Batik and our original African prints. The fabric is from a province in Indonesia called West Papua. So my brands is about challenging three things: self Conciousness, change and restering pride.
What’s the idea behind this Indonesian inspiration?
Well I am not just a designer, I am a social activist in my own accord. West Papua faces hard times being oppressed by the Indonesian government. And the world talks little about this apartheid-like state. As a South African social activist with apartheid history, I believe my brand will play a part in spreading awareness about West Papua’s existence and struggle, with hope that more people will know about it. The more the Indonesian government is exposed, hopefully, West Papua will be freed.
Joining the ACTIVATE! network has been blissful. I got to strongly learn about myself in the first week and met incredible influencers, it’s a network of dreamers with a great potential to assist me on my journey. I am looking forward to the future, and it looks positive.