Of church fashionistas and ‘heavenly’ etiquette

The Chronicle

Mbulelo Mpofu, Showbiz Reporter

LAST week, we covered the appalling undress code adopted by many, especially the youths nowadays and in the same spirit, this week we will cover different dress codes.

On Monday, lovebirds painted the city red as they celebrated Valentine’s Day. As you know, red is a symbol of love and donning red on the day was the best form of human acknowledgment and appreciation for love.

Besides Valentine’s Day exploits, there are diverse dress codes that you probably see every day but don’t care about enough to want to establish their origins, meaning, and the idea behind some demeanour exhibited by people in those types of apparel.

Generally, the act of dressing is to address the issue of nudity to cover one’s shame. That’s your next-door definition and description of what wearing is all about.

Dressing was established in the Garden of Eden and ever since, dress codes have been perennially changing, especially given the influence from celebrities having a telling effect on how people dress and behave.

A lot, if not all of us want to live the American Dream. A life filled with endless possibilities. Globally, the US is a trendsetter for most (if not all) of the things, dress included.

American pop singer, Lady Gaga is nicknamed the Mother Monster with her legion of followers called Monsters. For a long time, Gaga has controversially influenced how people dress.

She has however faced scrutiny from religious sects for her “weird taste” as far as dressing is concerned. But why the animosity towards her?

To save you from a Wikipedia nosedive, let’s look at two examples where the Poker Face singer stole the headlines for the wrong reasons with regards to her weird dress sense.

Lady Gaga was born to stroll on the red carpet and it is second nature for her to effortlessly steal the show wherever she sets foot.

In 2010, at the MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga’s costume caused a stir. In all of the trendy outfits at her disposal, she chose to rock raw beef as her outfit for the red carpet. Weird right?

As if that was not shocking enough, Gaga wore a live cockroach hat. Yeah, you read that right. I know that the sight of those little creatures makes the hair at the back of your head stand, but not Mother Monster.

She wore a hat infested with live roaches after a study by New York students revealed that the insects “responded to her music” more compared to any other artiste. Lady Gaga would end up naming them her “real-life monsters”.

These are just two examples in a sea of other fashion disasters that Lady Gaga has done in the past. So, Gaga’s fashion sense and demeanour have led to some sectors calling her a “devil’s messenger”. Many “monsters” will probably not share the same sentiments about the Paparazzi singer.

This week, we will bring the issue closer home, delving deeper into what and how “religious” people wear and the significance thereof.

Walking the streets of Bulawayo, especially on a Sunday exposes one to different, off-the-cuff outfits as people rush to and from their places of worship. We have different religious sects with diverse fashion tastes and a survey around the city sired some answers.

Apostolic sects are known and popular for wearing white uniforms and carrying white sling bags as well and one resident who only identified herself as Madzimai Mhunduru said their uniform was a symbol of purity.

“Generally, white looks clean, but we wear it as an index to our hearts. We strive for purity and it starts within. So, we chose a white uniform to cement that idea because God desires that we present ourselves pure in His sight. I believe this is heavenly etiquette. As for the bags, the idea is to match it with our outfits,” she said.

Religion is about spiritual warfare between good and evil, sentiments shared by one of South African Prophet Radebe’s Revelation Spiritual home congregant Sean Nyathi who wore the church’s t-shirt and was “armed” with a wooden assegai-cum-knobkerrie.

“We are in serious spiritual warfare. We don’t wrestle with flesh and blood, but against principalities and spiritual wickedness hence we need to be in full armour. This assegai is for protection and so are these bangles and this bottle of anointed water.

“This isn’t about swag, but rather about playing one’s part in the warfare,” Nyathi concluded while upping his sleeves to show us his bangles.

Another uniform that laid bare the idea of protection was the khaki short-sleeved shirts as well as shorts with cream stockings that Guta RaMwari boys wear. The uniform is not complete though without the brown leather sash and the “knife pocket”.

Women wear an all-white outfit that has a white or red-figure belt which demarcates two classes for the daughters of Eve.
Samuel Nyamayaro, a member of the sect professed ignorance and the idea of just following standard procedure when asked about their apparel for males.

“To be honest, I don’t know why we even wear shorts at church. I was born into a family belonging to this congregation and I guess it’s just standard procedure. Well…there is no knife in there. It must just be a design of some sort to demarcate us from others.”

“For women, it’s about purity, sexual purity that is. Virgins wear white belts while those who are either married or deflowered wear a red belt. We prioritise sexual purity in our church so as to promote abstinence and a no-sex-before-marriage policy and our uniform helps us maintain such high standards,” he continued.

If ever there is a religious sect which dresses for the occasion, that would be according to congregant, Thabani Zulu, the Zion Christian Church (ZCC). Characteristic of the church is wearing of tyre-soled shoes, khaki uniforms and what some people call “pilot hats”.

“I want to set the record straight here. Our uniform does not have pilot hats as some would have it. It’s as simple as that. We dress for the occasion because if you look closely, our choreography includes a lot of jumping and that is why we wear those farmer shoes with tyre soles. Imagine jumping on bare feet or on shoes with soft sole. It wouldn’t work,” Zulu said.

Lately, there has been a growing trend of wearing skimpy, shiny and bright-coloured suits by brethren from Pentecostal churches. The colours range from lime green, yellow all the way to sky blue.

One Charles Ushe who preferred to conceal the name of the church he worships at said the fashion trend was just about looking sharp and smart.

“It’s about swag, drip and looking good. Whoever said that people must wear baggy suits with dull, boring colours must have been the worst laggard in the world.

This is the 21st century and we must embrace the now. Slim fits and bright colours are the now and we must get on with the times. I mean, it looks cool, doesn’t it?” he quizzed.

Adventists have many different uniforms but predominantly, their colour is green. Look at the Pathfinder, Master Guide & Community Services aka Dorcas uniforms. So, why green?

One Shamiso Thwala had a ready response, citing environmental issues and life.

“Our environment is characterised by nature’s verdure which is a sign of life. Our Pathfinder and Master Guide class uniforms have white shirts which symbolise purity so those are the basis as to why we wear green and white,” she said.

One interesting conversation we had was with a man from The Apostolic Faith Mission of Africa, popularly known as KoSengwayo who preferred to be called SaThoko.

At their church, women wear long-sleeved dresses which sweep the floor and headgear which conceals their hair while their male counterparts wear suits without vents.

SaThoko said: “We encourage our women to wear modestly and we believe that it can’t get more modest than that. They cover their bodies adequately, from head to toe so that cases of rape and any type of sexual misconduct is lowered. As for why we wear jackets with no veils, I honestly do not know and I have never cared to ask. Even when I get one with a vent, I would have to cover it.”

A member of arguably the oldest church in the world, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) said they wear a rosary for prayer. A rosary is a string of beads with a crucified Jesus on the cross which is worn like a necklace.

Chantelle Gundani, a member of the RCC said they use the rosary to, “keep track of repetitions in prayer for Ave Maria, a particular RCC Marian prayer for emphasis.”

One thing is for sure, with every dress code, there is a meaning behind it. We might not have had the liberty to interview every church because of time but we know you know a lot about some articles of clothing that “church people” wear.

Feel free to share with us. Till next time, enjoy the remainder of your month of love. – @eMKlass_49

Article Source: The Chronicle

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