Black History Month is commemorated every February in the United States of America, celebrating the achievements of black Americans.  Since 2005, it is also the month Nike unveils its distinct designs of Black History Month (BHM) products, leading with the iconic Air Force 1, paying homage to the achievements of black heritage, in sport and beyond, worldwide.

Nike recognizes the significance of BHM with not only a product collection, but a larger recognition of the power of sports to impact society. It is an appreciation of a movement created by the Pan-African communities to fuel a purpose of equality. To honour the global black history movement, and as part of this year’s 35th anniversary of the iconic Air Force 1, Nike produced a collection of bespoke BHM Air Force 1’s.

South Africa, at the heart of the African diaspora, is the first of three countries honouring individuals who are the future force, the chosen ones. They are pioneers of their trade. Trendsetters and tastemakers who are charging ahead and blazing new paths while taking the rest of us into the future, who proudly wear their country’s heart on their sleeve, and are proudly African. This inspired Nike designers to produce a signature sneaker fusing the country, the continent, and Pan-Africanism into an exclusive edition of BHM Air Force 1’s.

A graphic marblized print of South Africa’s national flag rests on the inner and outer of the all-black nubuck upper which rests upon a crisp white sole. A gold hang-tag of the African continent motif with BHM emblazoned across it and the lace lock made up of tri-colours red, black and green inspired by the Pan-African flag also known as the Black Liberation Flag complete the sneaker. The socklier has the ‘equality’ message across it.

35 South African honorees were hosted at a special unveiling of the BHM Air Force 1 on Wednesday night at Lilies Leaf in Rivonia – the award-winning heritage site and once the nerve centre of the anti-apartheid movement. It was a befitting backdrop to an intimate dinner served by Junior Chef of the Year, Terror Lekopa, during a month dedicated to appreciating the country’s diverse cultural heritage, beliefs and traditions.

South Africa’s Force 35 include:
Amanda Dlamini – Professional Footballer, Olympian, Football Analyst
Anele Mdoda – Radio and Television Personality, Author, Occasional Comedienne
Anees Petersen – Fashion Designer, Entrepreneur
Black Coffee
Caster Semenya – Professional Athlete, Olympian, World Champion
DJ Fresh – Multi-talented DJ, Music and Television Producer
Doowap – Fashion Guru, Drum and Bass Queen
Greg Maloka – Musical Maestro, Radio Genius
Itumeleng Khune – Professional Footballer, South Africa’s leading Goalkeeper
Jamal Nxedlana – Creative Director, Photographer, Designer
Lady Skollie – Visual Artist, Activist
Laduma MaXhosa – Knitwear Design Extraordinaire
Lazi Mathebula – Illustrator, Designer, Sneaker Customizer
Lebogang Rasethaba – One of the Younger Film Directors
Luvo Mayonga – Professional Long Jumper, Olympian, World Champion
Mandla Sibeko – Chairman, Co-Founder of the Joburg Art Fair
Manthe Ribane – Graphic Designer, Dancer and Performer
Maria McCloy – Urban Culture Lover, Publicist, Journalist, Fashion Designer
Mary Sibande – Sculptor, Photographer, Visual Artist
Milkshake – Multicultural DJ and Producer
Mkay Frash – Sneaker Head, Undisputed King of Camo and Streetwear
Riky Rick – Rapper and Producer
Ruli Diseko – Relentless Entrepreneur
Scoop Makhathini – Television and Radio Presenter, Writer
Sho Madjozi – Rapper, Poet
Tarryn Alberts – Choreographer, Dancer
Tebogo Mohlathsi – Renowned Film Director, Revolutionised SA Television
Terror Lekopa – Junior Chef of the Year.
Thandiswa Mazwai – One of the most influential musicians in SA
Thando Moleketi – Food Writer, Traveler
Trevor Stuurman – Photographer, Creative Director
Tusa Mamba – Sneaker and Streetwear Trendsetter
Wandile Zondo – Co-founder of Thesis Lifestyle
YoMzansi – Sneaker Culture Bloggers
Zaid Osman – Sneaker Exchange Founder, Sneaker Head
Zanele Mohuli – Visual Artist, Photographer.