Introduced by German immigrants, intricately patterned shweshwe is a South African fashion staple, worn by township dwellers, suburbanites and rural women. The durable fabric is used to sew anything from wedding dresses to trendy gear, and has been seen on international catwalks.
A childhood in the impoverished and degraded landscape of the rural Eastern Cape has given Ashanti Mbanga, Miss Earth South Africa, a passion for working to protect and repair the environment for the benefit of ordinary people. She’ll be taking that passion to the Philippines in December, where she will join 115 other young women for the international leg of the competition.
South Africa-based Gift of the Givers is racing against time to get much-needed medical and food supplies to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The organisation will also send medical and clean-up teams to the disaster-ridden area.
South African R&B star Loyiso Bala is using his talent to champion good causes. Already a Mandela 46664 ambassador, the singer has been appointed South African UNAids Goodwill Ambassador, a job in which he will help fight violence against women and discrimination against people with HIV and Aids.
From a forgotten township in Mpumalanga to the venerable La Scala in Milan, soprano Pretty Yende has travelled an astonishing journey – and she is only 28. Hers is an extraordinary story of talent, hard work and determination.
• South African opera diva’s big win in Moscow