Maverick Life

CHRONICLES OF SONA CHIC

It was Ramaphosa’s red tie time again, like he did last summer

It was Ramaphosa’s red tie time again, like he did last summer
ANC Member Tandi Mahambehlala arrives at the 2024 State Of The Nation Address (SONA) at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Victoria O'Regan)

For a fleeting moment, the 2024 State of the Nation Address red carpet looked like a day at the L’Ormarins King’s Plate. Floor-length dresses, bright colours, décolletés and hats. Many hats and headpieces.

In a press release, Parliament said it had partnered with “Proudly South Africa for this year’s State of the Nation Address in support of the South African fashion industry by urging Members of Parliament and guests to wear locally produced attire”. And, indeed, some MPs and dignitaries seemed to have received the memo.

Asanda Luwaca on the red carpet at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Ziyaad Douglas)

Minister of Small Business Development Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on the red carpet at Sona 2024

Minister of Small Business Development Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Ziyaad Douglas)

But from the top of politicians’ and guests’ heads, hats and headpieces looked down at the state of our country’s affairs.

There was the tiara of Miss World South Africa, Dr Claude Mashego, and the white-and-blue flower crown of Mariane Schiestl (director of Eden of Africa Lodge), but also straw hats and turbans that seemed to walk, perched high and firmly fitted on dignitaries’ heads.

Miss World South Africa Dr Claude Mashego on the red carpet at Sona 2024

Miss World South Africa Dr Claude Mashego during of the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Ziyaad Douglas)

Mariane Schiestl at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Ziyaad Douglas)

They advanced, feathered, beaded, embroidered, patterned, plastic-flowered, diamanté and for some, quite chic, a silent and elegant snub to the usually loud red berets.

To the customary shouts, points of order, and general chaos of last year’s Sona, this year’s hats responded with grace and measure, to some a bit unadventurous.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele on the Sona 2024 red carpet

Minister of Police Bheki Cele is interviewed on the red carpet at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Ziyaad Douglas)

ANC Member Nozipho Tyobeka-Makeke on the Sona 2024 red carpet

ANC Member Nozipho Tyobeka-Makeke arrives at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)

Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Bernice Swarts at the 2024 State of the Nation Address  at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)

A dignitary at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Ziyaad Douglas)

Senior ANC member Xolani Sotashe on the Sona red carpet in 2024

Senior ANC member Xolani Sotashe arrives at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)

Deputy Minister in the Presidency Pinky Kenana on the red carpet at Sona 2024

Deputy Minister in the Presidency Pinky Kenana at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)

A dignitary on the red carpet at Sona 2024

A dignitary on the red carpet at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo:  Gallo Images / Ziyaad Douglas)

A dignitary arrives on the Sona red carpet in 2024

A dignitary arrives on the red carpet at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Ziyaad Douglas)

A dignitary at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Ziyaad Douglas)

A night at the City Hall seemed to have turned into a day at the races, and then President Cyril Ramaphosa took to the stage, returning focus to the seriousness of the event.

The President was dressed in his customary pinstriped suit with a red tie, paired with a crisp white shirt — a striking imitation of his 2022 Sona outfit; by now, we can call it a vintage Ramaphosa outfit.

Watching the address live, Daily Maverick’s Ferial Haffajee noted: “As much as I love a bit of drama, this Sona without ‘Speaker, point of order’ and ‘Honourable Ndlozi, take your seat’ is quite nice, nè?”, to which Rebecca Davis responded: “I guess it’s a reminder of what our collective politics were like pre-2015. More boring, but also more functional?”

Sartorially speaking, a search in the archives shows Cyril Ramaphosa at the 2013 State of the Nation Address sporting his habitual pinstripe suit plus white shirt, only that time topped with a bright yellow tie.

Cyril Ramaphosa at the opening of parliament on February 14, 2013, in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Yunus Mohamed)

Back to the present, with the Sona now at the Cape Town City Hall, the EFF banned from attending and as the President’s speech goes on and on and on, hats start tipping slightly forward, a feather pointing lazily to the chair in front — has someone in the audience fallen asleep?

The thing is, Ramaphosa’s promises seem to roll back every year like his red tie and pinstripe suit (praise to vintage) — and without chaos and confusion, as my colleagues pointed out, all yawns threaten to break loose.

Maybe the President believes — with reason — that there is comfort in repetition and serenity in knowing that every year, at least on the red carpet, he will show up consistent, solid, reliably unsurprising.

Or maybe it’s a Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck situation: Jobs apparently chose the turtleneck because, “It was a garment that did away with an extraneous fold at the neck, that had the ease of a T-shirt and a sweatshirt but also the cool, minimal lines of a jacket”. The red tie, suit and white shirt combo might be Ramaphosa’s very own uniform of cool.

It’s his Sona signature.

On delivering the last Sona speech of the sixth administration, the President said in Zulu: “We will be back … To those who think that this is the last State of the Nation Address, we say, we will be back.”

One can bet he will be back, in a pinstripe suit, white shirt and a bright red tie. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Francoise Phillips says:

    Very Marie Antoinette kitsch just before the revolution ended her and her king’s reign of bloated excess while the nation starved. Billionaires and their lovers who have bankrupted the state and cheated the voters while enriching themselves in the utmost safety, security and luxury – leaving citizens to the mercy of crime, starvation, sewage and suffering. ANC = a vote for endless destruction and suffering.

  • JDW 2023 says:

    I found myself feeling somewhat queezy looking at these photos. I did not tune into the SONA for good reason (what’s changed?, what’s to look forward to?) but the fact that these public figures, mostly in the political domain, can dress up in their finest with million-dollar smiles for this pompous event as if all is good and well in their little world when just a few kilometers away thousands of South Africans are still living in squalor speaks volumes about how out of touch said public figures are. Out of site, out of mind I guess.

  • John P says:

    I think Zapiro’s cartoon summed it up best

  • Karin vdK says:

    was’nt it last year that CJ suggested that attendee’s tone down their choice of attire..?

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Why did the DM think we would want to see them

  • Louise Roderick says:

    Vulgarity at its best

  • William Dryden says:

    Wear something made locally, and don’t worry about the cost, the taxpayer is paying again and again.

  • sandy05 says:

    The SONA has become a ridiculous spectacle of inappropriately dressed large women squeezed into expensive shiney sparkling clothes of peculiar design, showing so much bouncing flesh. There were some strange things stuck on their heads too. The “fashion show” was an show of extravagance, vulgarity and so comically entertaining!

  • SANDRA SMITH says:

    I love to see the beautiful traditional wear. Stunning colors & patterns.
    This s*%*show has always been part of the opening of parliament, no use fighting it.
    I think it is just hard for anyone to see anything beautiful while this so-called “government” is stealing the present and the future of the people.
    Looking at those beautiful oranges and blues makes me weep for the beauty we COULD create and be. GO VOTE!

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