THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, portrays the Aboriginal beliefs in spiritual existence. According to the tribes that first settled down in the continent, the Dreaming's roots date all the way back to the very begging of the creation of the world. The meaning and ideology of the term is generally not so well-understood by non-indigenous people as it is referred to as part of the culture of one of the early nations, which differs from modern perceptions.
The Spirits were the creators of everything. They made the land and the seas, the rocks and the plants, the sky and the earth. They were the higher power and the Australian Aborigines spent their lifetimes honoring this power, which guided their path and shaped their way of thinking. Not only creators of everything, which could be seen as well as felt, the Spirits also gave the Aborigines the Dreaming.
The time when everything started existing according to the initial Australians, was called the Dreaming. This is the foundation of the continent's culture. The origin of the Dreaming goes way back - 65 000 years back in time to be exact. The Ancestors of the nation shaped the land, forming some parts of it as sacred. The Aborigines were very careful and overprotective of those places, strongly believing in their significance.
The Australian Aborigines are known to have believed that the world didn't have any shape and was therefore empty. Darkness dominated, and life was simply asleep, but this changed when the creation began happening. After the Dreaming and the influence of the Spirits, objects began taking shapes and came to be. They created the four elements: water, earth, air and fire, as well as all the planets, the Sun and the Moon. The Dreaming therefore is a continuous process, which never ended. It is a small cosmos on its own, unifying the past, present and the future into one.
The Australian Aborigines' home riches so many vivid areas of the continent, including Fraser Island, Tasmania, Palm Island, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island. The Aborigines had very strong believes in relation to the powers of the land, claiming that they never owned it - it rather owned them. The only reason they were able to call it their home is because they were looking after it and the land was taking care of the people in return.
Equally important to the Dreaming was the tribes' understandings of the disappearance of the Spirits. There came a time, when the creators of everything vanished from sight. Some of them were thought to have started living in sacred places, which is why the Aborigines perceived their homeland to be so sacred. The ancestors of today's Australians used to believe that the creators started living in rocks, in water holes and some went up to the sky to guide the people from above and keep them safe. Others transformed completely, taking the forms of the rain, the lightnings and the thunderstorms so they could be part of peoples' life.
Among the hundred's different Aboriginal languages, there isn't a word to describe 'time', because to them this simply doesn't exist. Dreaming and Dreamtime are used to replace it and summarize the ideologies of the Aborigines about everything they knew, everything they could see, feel and experience. This is why the Dreaming has such a vivid, and overwhelming meaning and has survived the obstacles of time. For the past couple thousand years, the Dreaming has built a rich cultural heritage that can identify a whole nation.
Read more about the Land, its connection to people and the way it has been perceived from different generations in the very first print issue of ORIGIN. The Land Issue covers varied topics, most of which remain related to cultural aspects of the land and its importance.
A lot of people travel to explore places and learn about them which is the message that ORIGIN wants to spread. With traveling, however, comes certain responsibilities that we should all be aware of. Elephants riding has become a popular way to explore locations by land. People have been doing this as part of their trips, mostly to places such as Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and other parts of Asia. It is a common thing to see in certain places in Africa as well. We investigated the activity to explain why it is wrong and riding elephants should be banned everywhere.
Our first print issue studies culture and traveling represented through the land. We explored various location around the globe and learned what makes the land so valuable, which nations cherish it and how it helps us establish an identity. Traveling is important to us but traveling responsibly and making an impact is what we feel proud to stand behind. This is why riding elephants as a way of amusement should be reconsidered.
Let’s talk about the details. Elephants are very caring and extremely intelligent animals. It is a well-known fact that they never forget anything. When kept in captivity instead of spending their life in the wild, elephants die younger. Unlike in other species, this is common for the gentle giants and is often a result for stress.
Many African cultures respect elephants, believing they symbolize strength, loyalty and power. However, power can be a very tender concept. Elephant used as a tourism tool suffer from great pain daily. Elephants can be hurt very severely from the weight of carrying people and a trainer on their backs. The reason for this is the design of their spines. They have sharp protrusions, extending upwards from their spine instead of having round spinal disks. The protrusions and the tissue that serves to protect them can be harmed easily from weight pressure. Once a damage to their spine has been made, there is no going back and sometimes the harm can be irreversible. While this can’t be physically seen, the harm that the chairs can do to the elephants’ skin is. It is often the case that the chairs and the weight on their back can damage the animal’s skin and cause pain to their body. The chair, called Howdah, that gets attached to their backs, rubs on their skin and can cause blisters, which can sometimes get infected.
The training that elephants are required to go through when in captivity sometimes adopts a traditional Thai ‘phajaan’ or ‘crush’ technique. Explaining the technique would compare it to the animals’ spirits constantly and continuously being broken by the means of torture and social isolation. This is done in order to tame them. Elephants are wild animals, this is their nature as they are born in such conditions. Making them safe and obedient around people requires them to go through such training. As horrible as it sounds, in some places young elephants are taken away from their mothers to be abused with nails, bull hooks and bamboo sticks to make them obey rules, given by people. The animals often lack sleep and are starved to become submissive.
Actions from such nature are cruel and harmful as the technique is used to crash the animals’ spirit. Once wild and free, elephants become a source of tourism and entertainment. Nobody, who cared about sustainable tourism should ever ride an elephant.
In a sense, elephants have a human soul. They socialise and feel everything – pain, happiness, grief, sadness etc. They spend their life building families and finding friends. The largest land animals are a gift from nature and it is our responsibility to take special care of them and make sure they live according to their nature. Many animals, who are kept in captivity, are forced to live in isolation and carry heavy loads all day long, which is a wrong way to treat them. Their strength and power shouldn’t be abused but treated gently and celebrated by people. Elephants require minimal care to stay happy and healthy, which comes from giving them freedom to behave naturally and socialise. It is our responsibility to be culturally aware while traveling and make sure to spread awareness about the problem.
You can read the rest of the article as published in the LAND issue.
THE PAN-AFRICAN BRAND THAT BRINGS CULTURE TO FASHION
Montreal, Canada @kali.works
Explore pan-African traditions with this bold boutique brand that pays homage to the continent and celebrates the art of making culture chic. We caught up with the founders, Alex and Lindy, to talk about how Kali Works turns the feeling of taking pride in your roots into a fashion statement
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Kali Works
28 August 2021
Founded in Vancouver in 2019, and based in Montreal since 2021, Kali Works proves that combining slow fashion with art is the 'it formula' that transforms the wardrobes of stylish chic lovers. The pan-African boutique has released collections focused on exploring indigenous culture and proudly wearing it on your sleeve. A one-of-a-kind brand with unique vision, Kali Works finds inspiration in the vivid past of African traditions, showcasing that distance is not an obstacle as long as we feel connected to our homeland and the places we belong to.
Alex Dingiria, the conceptualist, and Lindani Mokgweetsi, the creative brand director, are immigrants from African origin, who maintained a strong bond to pieces of their native culture even after moving abroad. Through their innovative ideas the duo expands one of the biggest industries in the world by bringing forward African values and putting an emphasis on the narrative of authenticity in the fashion world. Kali Works incorporates the ideology that traditions are an element of life which can inspire each generation to seek different ways of connecting to their homeland.
The collections introduced by the brand - The Nairobian, Bogolan Coats ,Cave Art and more - are centered around celebrating the spirit of Africa. Whilst the apparel is influenced by traditional designs rooted in African history, the clothes and jewellery by Kali Works signify that expressing your origins through your style has never looked better.
‘‘Being born and raised in Botswana, I have a deep appreciation of Botswana's preservation of our culture and history. I wanted to share a collection to acknowledge the history of art in itself.’’
Lindani Mokgweetsi, founder of Kali Works for NOMADSofORIGIN Magazine
We love the brand not solely for their artistic work and sleek designs, but also for their respectful approach to making the fashion world more sustainable and eco-conscious. The products used by the brand are sourced, as much as possible, from the country of origin, meaning that a lot of the materials are hand-made or painted.
Kali Works is known for being a collaborative brand. They give platform to African artists to express their culture by incorporating elements of it in the apparel. Stunning face pieces and detailed jewellery; linen loungewear and satin kimonos - Kali Works is art in the making. Support this inspirational black-owned business by shopping the brand at UBC's Museum of Anthropology gift shop in Vancouver or browse their online shop from the comfort of your home.
We caught up with Alex and Lindy to talk about indulging culture and art in fashion, the new way to pay homage to one's sense of self and the inspiration behind the founders' creative process.
NOMADSofORIGIN: We love the brand and how the designs draw inspiration from African culture. Do you consider that it's important to see more representation of indigenous and African origins in the fashion world?
Alex Dingiria: I think it’s very important to have indigenous representation in all available formats, and it’s why we try to speak on the source culture for our collections as much as possible. Otherwise, we as Africans also risk misrepresenting and ‘othering’ ourselves the same ways that we complain we are viewed within western gazes. We’re definitely not perfect, but we make a great effort towards that respect. Doubly important because Africans benefit the least from the commodification of their cultures, so if commodification is unavoidable, we should at least try to own its production and elevate their narratives at minimum.
NOMADSofORIGIN: You collaborate with African artists and creatives to bring collections to life. Who are some of the talents you have worked with so far and who are the people you would like to team up with in the future?
Alex: There’s been quite a few to name them all, from Kakinbow in Senegal for mud cloth goods, Rosen Ian in Kenya for stylised illustration, Koketso in South Africa for some of the metal jewellry. I have my eyes on a few people we’d like to work with in various stages in future, but I’ll hold on to that list for now! Brands like Maxhosa, IAMISIGO, Daily Paper, and Atelier New Regime are some of the ones we look up to.
NOMADSofORIGIN: The style of Kali Works is authentic, bold and timeless. What do you wish the lovers of the brand to feel when they wear the pan-African boutique pieces?
Alex: On top of the pieces just being ‘fly’, our supporters tend to ‘click’ with something in the piece right away, whether it’s the pattern, the origin culture, choice or cut of fabric, or just our reason for making them, it’s about maintaining that initial reaction of ‘Wow! I didn’t even know this cool thing could even exist!’. That’s a reaction of being seen, it makes you feel alive somewhere inside. For me, that feeling makes me curious about what else is out there that is similar? So when you begin to ask yourself all kinds of questions about fashion, art and culture, we’re here to help you answer them.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Since the brand was founded, you have launched some impressive collections, including the Nairobian and Bogolan sets. Your latest collection, Cave Art, is rooted in Southern African traditions. The linen sets and kimonos pay a tribute to cave artworks found in Tsodilo Hills in Botswana, which are believed to have been drawn 24 000 years ago. What inspired you to center the pieces around these artworks?
Lindy Mokgweetsi: Being born and raised in Botswana, I have a deep appreciation of Botswana's preservation of our culture and history. I wanted to share a collection to acknowledge the history of art in itself. How important art is in illustrating the worlds we live in and the worlds we come from.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Is there a secret to creating such incredible pieces - clothes and accessories - in a way where they simultaneously are seen as fashion statements while representing Africa?
Alex: Look, if they do exist, we’re absolutely in search of secrets ourselves! Not sure about there being a single secret in what we do, we just try to learn and work towards expressing that as best as possible in our products.
‘‘I’ve travelled a bit, and I’ll put Nairobi up there as one of the most vibrant cities on Earth, just in terms of concentration of human activity and the appetite for life that flows from that.’’
Alex Dingiria, founder of Kali Works for NOMADSofORIGIN Magazine
NOMADSofORIGIN: You source a lot of your products from the countries of cultural origin, which has allowed your brand to consist of pieces made in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, DR Congo, Botswana and many more. What obstacles have you faced when becoming a sustainable forward-thinking fashion brand?
Both: Every collection is a learning experience because we’re always experimenting and trying something new, often somewhere new as well. Africa is vast and varied, so how people do business changes drastically from country to country. Even within countries, it can change depending on the region.
Understanding this is part of our sustainability because it is also about working with people respectfully and responsibly, not just extracting materials and labour. What is sustainable or ‘the smart thing’ to us in the West/Global North might not work as well in another social context, so we adjust our expectations accordingly. The internal challenge then becomes aligning these processes to our own.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Alex, what is your favourite collection that you have launched so far?
Alex: Probably The Nairobian, which plays directly off of The New Yorker magazine covers, for three main things. First, it’s an homage to my hometown Nairobi where I’m claiming space among other internationally admired, cultural epicentres like New York, London, Paris, Tokyo. I’ve travelled a bit, and I’ll put Nairobi up there as one of the most vibrant cities on Earth, just in terms of concentration of human activity and the appetite for life that flows from that.
Second, The Nairobian also launched with our Kenyan online store, continuing our Pan-African vision by having an African presence where some of our goods are directly available at/close to source. And third, I don’t think Africans’ view on culture is fixated on indigeneity, especially for those of us who grew up urban. So, it’s important for me to show the urban sides as I know them, and as enthusiastically and equally authentic as our indigenous-derived works.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Lindy, what is the one Kali Works piece you can't live without?
Lindy: The cave art kimono. It is very versatile and I can wear it throughout the year. I love that it has a perfect balance of simplicity and sophistication.
NOMADSofORIGIN: The brand started in Vancouver and is now based in Montreal. You have also recently opened an online shop in Kenya - congratulations! What else can we expect to see from Kali Works in the near future?
Alex: The results of some experimentation, we have a couple of cool stories we’re working on bringing to life. Overall our big picture goals are unchanged, just some refinements and making sure each series has something better than the last one.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Thank you for this interview. We wish you the best of luck and send our love to the Kali Works' team. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Both: Thank you for the interesting questions. It was a pleasure, and we hope to chat again. Congrats on your publication too!
Shop the botique brand online
See below the pieces we love and follow the brand on social media.
NOMADSofORIGIN x Kali Works