Madiba shirts designer speaks out

Desré Buirski says she is honoured to have designed over 150 Madiba shirts.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela (R) holding the Jules Rimet World cup beside Archbishop Desmond Tutu, at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - The designer of the famous Madiba shirts, Desré Buirski, has paid tribute to the late statesman.

Nelson Mandela died at his Houghton home last Thursday.

Mandela became synonymous with the silk shirts which were later dubbed Madiba shirts in the 1090s.

Buirski told the Redi Tlhabi Show how she met the late statesman.

"It was in Cape Town in 1994. I approached the driver and he was such a gentleman. He popped out of the car and he signalled over to a bodyguard and I managed to give the gift that I had brought for Madiba to that bodyguard. On Monday was the opening of Parliament and on Tuesday morning_ Die Burger_ had a picture of Mandela wearing that first silk shirt that I had given him. That was the beginning of history."

She said she ended up designing over 100 shirts for Mandela.

"I have designed over 150 of these silk shirts for Tata Madiba and he did love to wear them because they were specially made in a way that would represent South Africa and the rainbow nation. They were bold and they were striking and they king of embellished his charismatic personality and the fact that he wanted to stand out and be different among other politicians across the world."

She said she was honoured to have worked with the global icon.

"I just want to say that I've been incredibly fortunate and privileged to have gone on this journey with him. I never did it to be recognised, in fact the first few shirts that I gave him I never thought for a moment that he would even wear them, it was just a gift that I gave him."

Buirski also paid tribute to Sonwabile Ndamase who also designed shirts for Madiba.

"I totally respect and highly value Sonwabile and his contribution in his journey that he has travelled with Madiba as well and with the family. There's no disrespect between us."

Madiba will be laid to rest in Qunu on Sunday.