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The stratospheric rise of South African fashion designer Thebe Magugu

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The rising star whose cerebral designs delve into the footnotes of history

Thebe Magugu may not yet be a name that trips off the tongue, but that’s about to change. Because Thebe (pronounced “Tebe”; the h is silent) is, by most accounts, a force to be reckoned with.

Hailing from Kimberley in South Africa, a small town more famous for diamonds than fashion, Magugu is in the midst of what can only be described as a stratospheric rise. The creator of quietly beautiful menswear and womenswear, he launched his label in 2016. His work was picked up by Italian Vogue and in 2019, he won the LVMH prize. Presently, he is in the final six for the International Woolmark Prize 2021 (the winner will be announced later this year) and is part of MatchesFashion’s Innovators Programme.

A design by Thebe Magugu. Courtesy Thebe Magugu

“Getting the message from Natalie [Kingham, buying director at MatchesFashion] that she was considering me to be part of the Matches Innovator programme was such an honour,” Magugu tells me.

“Natalie and I go back. She was one of the judges for the International Fashion Showcase in London. She was so interested in what I was doing, so it’s sort of a full circle,” he adds.

It is worth noting that Magugu won the 2019 International Fashion Showcase prize so convincingly that the judges, including Kingham, hailed him as a “leader of his generation”. Now he has been reunited with Kingham for the Innovators Programme, as part of which 12 emerging fashion labels receive backing, support and mentorship from MatchesFashion experts, and are given space on the online platform. Yet, despite so many accolades, Magugu remains disarmingly grounded, and deeply appreciative of the power of learning directly from experts.

Magugu’s designs delve into the footnotes of history. Courtesy Thebe Magugu

“I am based in Johannesburg, so I am quite far from fashion in that sense, so in the past it has been quite a struggle. I went to a fashion school here that was great in terms of creativity, but it didn’t really delve into the buying process or other facets of the industry. But the biggest blessing in my life was meeting people along the way who have acted as mentors to me, and taken the time to teach me. I am really grateful for that.”

A sense of learning runs through his collections, which, despite at first glance appearing stripped back and simple, are brimming with artful tailoring and sparse patterning that reflect hours of meticulous research on topics that hover on the fringes of society.

“I feel a lot of history runs the risk of being forgotten, because it is in the margins. So I make it a point to try to read as much as possible about obscure South African history that not a lot of people know about. I think people understand the big things that come out of South Africa, such as Nelson Mandela and apartheid, but there are so many footnotes that get forgotten,” he explains.

Magugu is a finalist for the International Woolmark Prize 2021. Courtesy Thebe Magugu

One such footnote inspired his spring 2020 collection. Entitled Prosopographyit was inspired by the Black Sash movement that was founded in 1955 in protest to apartheid. As well as wearing black sashes, the all-female movement would conduct what they called “hauntings”, and would stand in silent vigil against pro-segregation figures. This is echoed in the collection as ghostly images of distorted patterning, running across impeccably cut clothes in vivid red and denim blue.

Magugu even tracked down former members of the movement to record their story. “I tried to reach out to the ones who are still alive today, so essentially I can document what they have done. And I love doing that, because, as much as it is about educating others, it is about educating myself as well.”

Thebe Magugu’s spring / summer 2021 collection. Courtesy Thebe Magugu

For his spring/summer 2021 collection, called Counter Intelligence, he looked to the South African female spies who had worked on both sides of the apartheid regime. Again, he sought out the characters involved, using those interviews as the basis for his entire collection. Filled with subtle blink-and-you’ll-miss-it details, there is a small zig-zag pattern based on a polygraph test, a shirt covered in written testament, and even a polka dot that turns out, on closer inspection, to be a fingerprint. The men’s pieces are in muddy olives and teals, and come with discreetly mismatched buttons.

This cerebral approach is what sets Magugu apart and it runs alongside a deeper thread in his work: the idea that one person can make a difference. He himself is committed to empowering and enriching his wider community.

I think all of us were questioning our contribution to fashion, and certainly in the past, fashion could get away with being fashion for fashion’s sake

And yet, just like everyone else, he has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with stores around the world shutting down even as he was shipping his collections to them. “That was a hit, certainly, but I just feel my values have been calibrated even further.

“I think all of us were questioning our contribution to fashion, and certainly in the past, fashion could get away with being fashion for fashion’s sake” he says. ” But with the pandemic, we are all starting to think: ‘How has this bettered the community? What value is in this product?’

“I have always been obsessed with the idea of education, because I know what it does for a community. I am from a very small town and I have seen what a lack of education can do to a society. I have seen the effects of poverty and HIV quite close up,” he tells me.

A look from Thebe Magugu’s spring/summer 2021 collection. Courtesy Thebe Magugu

Now in a position to be collaborating with large, established companies, Magugu is using this platform to help uplift others. “There are so many wonderful opportunities that have come my way, but I have to sift through and really veer towards the ones that are in line with what I want to create, while empowering whoever is involved,” he explains.

Case in point, at the start of 2021, Magugu was invited to take part in the Lucky Charms exhibition at Bon Marché in Paris, for which he enlisted regional handworkers. “We sent thousands of embroidered flowers to Paris, done by the women in Ladysmith, which is a very small town.” In December, he teamed up with Adidas in South Africa to create a protective face mask based on a traditional tablecloth print, which was given out for free.

“Masks are not accessible to certain parts of the community in South Africa, so that’s what I mean by purpose-driven projects. Things that contribute over and above the actual product.

“My overall mission is to create a brand that is based in South Africa and very strong here, but with roots all over the world, to show people that it is possible to have localised manufacturing in places that are not known for that. It is quite a mission and very ambitious, but I really feel it can be done.

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Oprah Winfrey rushed to hospital as longtime friend Gayle King reveals details live on air

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Oprah Winfrey has been hospitalized due to a severe stomach virus, as revealed by her close friend Gayle King. On June 11, Oprah , 70, was noticeably absent from a scheduled appearance on CBS Mornings, leaving many fans concerned.

During the segment, Gayle , a longtime friend and CBS anchor, disclosed that Oprah was unable to attend due to a “serious” stomach bug.

“She had some kind of stomach thing – stomach flu – stuff was coming out of both ends,” Gayle candidly explained. “I won’t get too graphic. Needless to say, she ended up in the hospital, dehydration, had to get an IV. It was a very serious thing.”

Gayle reassured viewers that Oprah would recover from the virus but emphasized that she needed time to rest. “She will be okay. I hope she’s not mad at me for sharing that detail,” she added with a hint of concern. “But I wanted to make it clear that it mattered to her and that it really bothered her that she couldn’t be here for you today.”

In a statement a spokesperson confirmed that Oprah is “recovering” following the stomach virus and had received an IV for dehydration upon her doctor’s recommendation. “She is resting and feeling better every day,” the spokesperson assured.

The official Instagram account for Oprah Daily also acknowledged Gayle’s heartfelt announcement. “Oprah was scheduled to go on CBS Mornings today to announce her latest Oprah’s Book Club selection.

When she came down with a stomach virus over the weekend, Gayle – being the best friend she is – offered to make the announcement for her,” the post read. “We are happy to share that after receiving an IV due to dehydration at the recommendation of her doctor, Oprah is feeling much better. We wish her a speedy recovery.”

Despite her hospitalization, Oprah’s dedication to her work remained steadfast. She was set to appear on CBS Mornings to unveil her latest book club pick, Familiaris by David Wroblewski. Taking to social media, Oprah promoted the book, showcasing her enduring commitment to her audience. “

Summer is here and I love to settle in with a big book that takes me through the season,” she wrote on Instagram. “So today I’m thrilled to announce that my next Oprah’s Book Club selection is Familiaris by David Wroblewski!”

Oprah’s health scare comes on the heels of her remarkable body transformation. Known for her public battle with weight, Oprah has recently lauded weight loss medications like Ozempic. In December, she described weight loss drugs as a “maintenance tool” to support new, healthy habits.

In May, she reflected on her role in promoting diet culture. During a live event broadcast on YouTube in collaboration with WeightWatchers, Oprah acknowledged, “I have been a steadfast participant in this diet culture.

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Why Black Woman Police Chief Says She Doesn’t Want To Hire Black Or Hispanic Women

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There’s a reason we often believe Black cops are cops first and Black second (or never). Time and time again, Black police officers—such as the thugs in blue accused of beating Tyre Nichols to death—prove that they carry around the same anti-Black attitude that many of their white counterparts patrol the streets with.

Well, there’s a Black woman police chief in Atlanta who has taken this sunken place mentality to a whole new level, and she declared during a command staff meeting that she doesn’t want to hire any more Black or Hispanic women as police officers because they come into the force with too much “attitude.” (There’s an NWA joke in there somewhere, but Ima leave it alone for now.)

According to Fox 5 Atlanta, Atlanta VA Medical Center Police Chief Beverly Banks was captured in audio recordings from a September 13, 2023, command staff meeting attended by more than a dozen people, during which she said the following:

“I am to the point… I don’t want to hire black women no more. I’m to that point. I ain’t got no white women beating down my door to come in and work. But I wish they would. Cause I don’t have these problems.

“I don’t have no Hispanic women. Hell, I don’t want them neither. Cause you know what comes with it? A whole of lot of f—–g attitude. And I don’t want it. I’m the only one with an attitude in this place. Me.”

First of all, you know the narrative that racism in policing comes down to “a few bad apples” is some bluish-white nonsense when an officer of the law can casually declare their discriminatory attitudes towards Black people while other commanding officers just sit there and nod along like it’s just another Tuesday.

To be fair, Banks and two other commanding officers were suspended with pay last month due to what the Veterans Administration called “unacceptable behavior,” but that doesn’t change the fact that she felt comfortable enough to say what she said without fear of repercussions. (And by “repercussions,” I mean paid suspension, which some people might call a vacation.)

Also, it’s worth mentioning that it wasn’t just the clear hatred of Black women with bad attitudes—that came from a Black woman who clearly has a bad attitude—that got Banks suspended. The suspensions of the officers also revolved around “allegations of sexual assault and harassment.”

Months before she arrived, VA internal affairs examined the case of Shaneka Jackson. She accused Deputy Chief Johnnie McCullor of sexual assault.

“I didn’t know what he was doing until everything ultimately started to happen,” Jackson told the FOX 5 I-Team.

McCullor denied everything. But a 2022 VA investigation raised questions about his honesty and found Jackson to be “accurate and truthful.”

“I was being truthful,” said Jackson. “And nothing happened.”

Jackson lost her job. McCullor remained deputy chief. And when Chief Banks took over, she kept him there. It’s unclear whether she knew about the IA findings.

In December 2023, another Black woman with the department filed a handwritten complaint with her supervisor accusing McCullor, who is also Black, of threatening to drag her down the hall by her hair, and while it’s unclear what happened with that complaint, during a department-wide meeting the next month, Banks reportedly told McCullor, “Deputy Chief McCullor, if you don’t know how to talk to people, tell me now so I can do whatever I need to do to get you disciplined… again.”

It’s also unclear what that “discipline” would entail since a sexual assault allegation determined to be “accurate and truthful” wasn’t enough to get him the ax. According to the EEO complaint filed by Jackson, McCullor offered to help her get a job with the private security company the Atlanta VA also uses, but that offer came with the condition that she perform sexual acts with the deputy chief.

Jackson was ultimately demoted and transferred—which she said happened after she finally filed the complaint—and after she failed to show up for work the next day, the private security company fired her and denied it had anything to do with the complaint she filed.

McCullor, Banks, and a third officer with the department, Major Daryl Gates, were all relieved of duty pending a VA investigation “to address the challenges in the Atlanta VA police department” as well as “investigate the situation in the Atlanta police department, make recommendations related to these 3 individuals, and identify other changes that might be needed to improve the culture.” Gates has since been reinstated. It’s unclear what role he played in the “unacceptable behavior” that is still under investigation.

As for Banks, a VA spokesman told Fox 5 of her remarks about hiring Black and Hispanic women, “There is no place for racism or discrimination at VA, and these comments are unacceptable.”

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This Former Kenyan Refugee Just Made History As The First Black Mayor Of Northern Ireland

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Lilian Seenoi-Barr made history this week when she became the first Black Mayor of Northern Ireland. On Monday night, she was installed as mayor of Derry City and Strabane at a special council meeting.

Ms. Seenoi-Barr, who arrived there 14 years ago as a refugee from Kenya, said it was an honor to become the first citizen. After being installed, Seenoi-Barr addressed the council chamber, thanking everyone who made the journey from Kenya for the “historic moment for Derry” acknowledging that their attendance “signifies the unity and shared pride between our communities,” BBC News reports.

“Many of you know that I am deeply proud of my Maasai heritage, rich with culture and tradition,” said Seenoi-Barr. “Growing up as one of 14 siblings in a Maasai village, I was nurtured in a home filled with love, unity, hard work and commitment to justice and freedom – values I carry forward into my service.”

“But my story, becoming both a Maasai woman and a Derry girl, began back in 2010 when I came to this city in search of safety and for a better life,” added Seenoi-Barr. “If you had told me then that I would be seated here today as the mayor of the north’s second city, I don’t think I, or anybody in my family would have believed you…Since I arrived Derry has embraced me, it has granted me a family, a community and now the honour of serving as your first citizen.”

The 42-year-old is no stranger to breaking barriers—just last year, She made headlines for the remarkable accomplishment of becoming the first Black woman to become an elected member of the “public office in Northern Ireland” as a councilor.

ot everyone has been happy with this development and unfortunately, since the mayoral announcement, Seenoi-Barr confessed to being the subject of “racist abuse and death threats. But she said that while the threats have been hurtful, she has also had enormous support across the island from community organizations and politicians who have stood in solidarity,” RTE, Ireland’s National Public Service Media reports.

“Of course there are some in recent weeks who have seen this history making moment as a threat and it is no secret that it has provoked anti immigrant sentiments,” countered Seenoi-Barr. “That has been a reminder of the issues we face as a community, but I know that those sentiments find no home in Derry and they were not reflected by most people in our city and district.”

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