Kasi Culture: Amapantsula And Converse All Stars

Girls Video - Mozambican dancers in One Star shoes

I grew up in the cool streets of Soweto, not all of which were dusty guys, because we had so many cultures in our neighborhood. However, the one culture that has really stood the test of time is isiPantsula.

aMapantsula (those following culture) arose in the townships in the 1970s, as young people began to establish their own values and vibe. They defined themselves by a particular dress code, type of music, manner of walking, and type of acrobatic dance. 

Every neighborhood kid I know grew up wanting to own a pair of Converse All Stars. They were/are among the most coveted items to own. In a TV interview, former Miss South Africa, Bassie Kumalo, who grew up in Soweto, said she already had over 20 pairs of shoes and she still wanted more. And that is true. Although I already have four pairs of these shoes, I still want them in all their different colours. NO, not those that are sold in the JHB CBD, the originals. 

I was so hurt when I saw fake All Stars being sold by street vendors in Johannesburg for R150 00. Like dude, are you real? Those are the official All-Stars, don't mess with them, ever!

A person who grew up in the culture knows that you have to have the original pair or nothing.
When we saw Beyonce performing an isiPantsula dance with guys wearing One Star tekkies in her 'Girls' video, we were like, "Beyonce NO, you don't do it like that. They need the original All Stars sneakers. That's gangster right there!".

So, I did some research and discovered that Beyonce used the guys from Mozambique. I am not sure where they got the idea of the 'One Star' culture for isiPantsula, but I didn't like it. Even their dance moves weren't strong enough. I am biased, yes. I know what's real. I grew up in the culture. I watched my brother and the guys from the neighborhood epitomize the culture. 

Having said that, maybe they wanted to differentiate themselves. If that was the plan, then they succeeded.  However, if you are going to adopt a culture, at least make sure the basic requirements are met. As a result, the All-Stars name is all-encompassing. There is no discrimination here.

The culture grew and became very strong between the 70s and the 80s. It was so strong that a young woman named Mercy Pakela came up with the song "Ayashisa Amateki". By definition, Ayashisa Amateki means these tekkies are hot. In this context, hot means not too hot to handle.

The song was a hit with young and old alike. Even the 'born free' (children born after the transition to democracy) know the song. That's how epic it is! In the video, she wears All Stars and dances like the female Panstula. Even today, Mercy wears her All Stars.

Trompies is yet another local music group that has retained the amaPantsula culture throughout Mzansi. Since day one, Trompies have stayed true to their vision, whether it was rain, sun, or new style. They will always wear coordinated clothes, ispoti (hats) and Wear All Stars. Since they have been true to their culture, so many young people have been inspired to embrace their street culture.

Trompies in their coordinated clothes and All Stars.

Though the dress code can vary from group to group, or person to person, the basic idea of isiPantsula remains the same: coordinated clothes with All Stars. Nothing more, nothing less. They are known for their incredible acrobatic dance!

amaPanstsula dancing

In celebration of these cultured sneakers, I thought I'd share some of my "oh-I-want-them" favorites.  If you purchase them online, some stores let you customize them based on your preferences.  Okay, so here we go:

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