GOMA, Congo (AP) — As she puts the final touches on her latest collection, a fashion designer in Congo sees the pinning, sewing and ironing as a way to send a message to the world.
“Through art, all the colors that we will express, through our clothes, it will be full of emotions, trying to explain what we are going through in our country,” Flore Mfuanani Nsukula says in her Goma workshop.
Conflict in eastern Congo has gone on for decades as myriad armed groups fight for control of valuable mineral resources. There are frequent mass killings, and the violence has triggered an exodus of refugees.
Officials in Congo says the remains of at least 20 people have been found buried in a mass grave in an area used to cultivate cacao in Ndoma village in the North Kivu province this weekend.
A local official in eastern Congo says the death toll from recent floods has nearly doubled to almost 400 people, The administrator of the Kalehe territory of South Kivu province told The Associated Press by phone that more bodies were recovered Sunday, including many found floating in Lake Kivu.
On Saturday, organizers held the ninth edition of the Liputa fashion show, which they say is an opportunity to inspire peace and peaceful coexistence across Africa.
“Africans must be one, be united. It is true that we have a very wide cultural diversity, but this diversity must bring us together,” Cameroonian fashion designer Délia Ndougou said. She presented a collection inspired by her nation’s flag.
“We really wanted to convey joy in the clothes, peace in the clothes, very cheerful styles, a question of making the world smile,” added Chadrac Lumumba, a creative stylist from Kinshasa.
The Goma show featured designers, models and artists from Cameroon, Senegal, Burundi, France, the U.S., and more.
“We think we have sent a message to say that all these people who have come from elsewhere, that means that the situation is already improving,” Nsukula said after debuting her new collection on the runway.
“We had those who came from the Central African Republic, Cameroon, USA, France, to come and present their collections. That means that there is hope, security, with time, it will improve.”
In addition to highlighting Congo’s fashion industry, the show also aims to promote a more positive view of the continent.
“We presented these collections, not only to sell the visions of these creators, but to show that in Africa, in (Congo), the areas that are considered ‘red,’ we can do things there that we see in other countries that have peace,” says organizer David Ngulu.
“I think that each creator contributed to love, peace and living together,” he said.