With the State Theatre as our backdrop I sit down with Simpi to chat about his creative journey. Rolland Simpi Motaung known by some as RORA – the name of his clothing and accessories brand – is a laid-back brother. Tall and lanky with his All Stars and backpack he is always on the move, from one art and cultural event to the next, illuminating artscapes with his creations more lately his clandestine RORA merchandise. Having grown up in his earlier years at a plot in Rugtersloot close to Warmbaths he shares poignant childhood memories of the vast milieu, broad sky and of crops and nature. To him Art is nature, Art is spiritual, Art is expression…
In secondary school he became an avid sketcher of cartoons and abstract art. He later abandoned all for the love of rap and hip hop. But it is in 2007 when he had a brief encounter with his mentor ntate Lefifi Tladi that this creative came to a spiritual catharsis. “I go through phases of art” he muses. His hunger led him to attend poetry sessions where he developed a radical consciousness and artistic expression. “Art really saved me” he chimes with a curious smile. I ask him how the sewing began. Light-heartedly he explains that it started with him ripping an old t-shirt, cutting out an African map from it and stitching the map onto a new tee. With every colourful thread little did he know that he was weaving a dream into reality.
Today this Pretoria-based “artpreneur” is renowned for his hand-crafted tees. RORA tees are soft cotton tees in beautiful bold hues reminiscent of the indigenous earth and sky. Using raw materials i.e. thread, paint and African fabric such as shweshwe Simpi transforms fashion into “exhibition”. Other RORA merchandise includes equally inspired earrings, handbags, satchels, key holders, and headgear.
“RORA means to roar like a lion (go rora jaaka tau) in Setswana. Metaphorically it means to EXPRESS, VOICE OUT, to ELICIT and BE SPOKEN OUT mostly especially about your passions not only in word but in righteous deeds. RORA is the first product under Rollution Creations CC.” Join the Facebook Group (RORA!!!) to see more of that dope clothing and accessories.