Safari Style: It’s a wrap

Wrap your head around (or in) these African folktale scarves…

In Africa, stories and histories were often passed down around the fire. Unfortunately, many of these tales have disappeared as storytelling is no longer such a strong family custom.

But Linda Gale, a Johannesburg-based fashion designer, is using her talent to share storytelling via her jewellery and clothing. Founder of ASATSI Africa, Gale is bringing vibrant African folktales to life through scarves. She encourages wearers to tell the story of their scarf and in this way keep traditional storytelling alive.

Each design is a conversation starter as it draws attention to a different animal from an African folktale. “ASATSI draws from its African roots in every design,” Gale says. She studied at LISOF fashion design school in Johannesburg and has been working in the industry since 2007.

Each pattern is created in the ASATSI studio, and the designs are then printed onto imported satin chiffon scarves.  “I love wearing black, and I always add one of my scarves for a pop of colour,” Gale says. “Our next scarf range will be based on African cities and what makes them unique,” she adds. This year ASATSI Africa also started producing a range of earrings.

The magic crocodile

This scarf tells the story of how the magic of the crocodile protected him and the other animals from the bows and arrows of the hunters. Time and again, any hunter that attempted to hunt the crocodile would be temporarily blinded. As soon as he dropped his arrow, the hunter’s sight returned.

The heart of the monkey

This folktale tells the story of two friends, a shark and a monkey. Monkey used to feed shark fruit from the overhanging branches of a seashore tree. One day shark convinced monkey to meet his family in the ocean. Unsure at first, monkey eventually agreed. Once monkey was riding on his back far away from his house in the tree, shark informed monkey that his chief was very ill and in order to get better he needed to feed on the heart of a monkey. Monkey was terrified, but “feeling like a fish out of water”, he thought of a plan. He told shark he had left his heart at home, so they turned around to fetch it. Once in the safety of the branches, monkey informed shark he had no intention of returning with shark or giving up his life for the shark chief. They were no longer friends.

Why do zebras have stripes?

This question baffled researchers for years, but today it has been answered: striped equids evolved in the presence of tsetse flies. Black and white stripes are a natural deterrent.

But African folktales have another story… The story goes that baboon and zebra got into a scrap over water. Baboon burnt zebra’s white fur with fire. (In those days all zebras were white.) Zebra was eventually able to send baboon flying into the rocky cliffs with one final and powerful kick but traumatised by the fire, zebra ran into the open plains – and has remained there ever since. Baboon decided to remain in the rocky cliff faces too, barking at passers-by.

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