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NEO SHEMBE | Empowering Women by Challenging the Rules of Shembe Church

Somi Ntsodi is a fashion graduate from Durban University of Technology, who grew up in a small town called Verulam, she's an owner of a small hair business and a fashion designer geared towards combining the two worlds.

Ntsodi shares her current collection titled NEO SHEMBE translating to the modern version of Shembe (the Nazareth Baptist Church).

"Growing up as a young girl in a Shembe church was a blessing and a challenge, I was confused and rebellious because there were certain things that didn't make sense to me about the church regarding the rules and laws which made me very rebellious. I wanted to express all my thoughts and feelings through my designs because I was never allowed that opportunity in my family."

"My collection is modern, bold, graphic and modest I wanted to conceptualize something that's never been done before which is looking at how women are not recognized in the Nazareth Baptist church (Shembe ) and men are given so much power and respect. I looked at Unyazi who is the Nazareth Baptist Church prophet.

He is so powerful, praised and is given an incredible amount of respect; I imagined if that same respect was given to a woman. Looking at my designs you see the rebellion of a woman, for example I included pants, this challenges the rule that women are forbidden from wearing pants.

And also looking at the high collars, only men and prophets are allowed to wear a high collars since it resembles power so I included those across my range."

"I wanted to communicate and tell a story that's never been told before and as a member of the church to become a voice for every other young woman who cants speak out."


Photography Assistant: Njabulo Khazi

Designs: Somi Ntsodi

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