Sometimes I feel like wearing my mokorotlo when going out. "If by any chance I walk past a Mosotho visiting Paris," I reason with myself, "I want them to recognise me." Hogwash. They recognise me without the mokorotlo!
During one of the showings of Sarafina here in Paris, I was beckoned by a couple in the theatre. They turned out to be from Lesotho. When I asked how they'd known I was from Lesotho or even just southern Africa, they smiled and said, "We knew." How?
Last weekend, on the occassion of "ten years without Apartheid," the Trocadero, right in front of the Eiffel Tower, was occupied by South Africans. I went over for the afternoon. There were dancers, stilt-walkers, handicrafts salespeople, and a Ndebele or Tembu lady painting a wall. Two people instinctively smiled at me and made it obvious that they knew.
It is almost as if we were one big family, regional siblings, with some sort of trait or feature that distinguishes us from others. I personally must be unaware of something, because I couldn't recognise a southern African from among many people, even if it were to save my life. But that's precisely how the mokorotlo idea was born.