Burundi was the only EAC country invited to the Rwanda Cultural Fashion Week 2014.–By Yves Didier Irakoze
“We preferred to invite Burundi to this event because we appreciate talent. Burundi maintains its originality by preserving culture through fashion”, states one of the organizers of the event. Alice Anny Akingabiye, the General Director of fashion agency ‘AgenceUmuringa’, says that it was a pleasure and that they were surprised to be the only country from the EAC to participate in Rwanda Cultural Fashion Week 2014.
She goes on saying that during the event they were treated as special guest. “At the end of the event, the organizers offered us a time to exhibit our fashion. We didn’t expect to get that opportunity.” Vanessa Akintije, a Burundian model, said that the Rwandans really appreciated the Burundian traditional fashion, like the ‘Kitenge’ cloth, printed with Burundian traditional art and objects like baskets, jewelry. But also the ficus cloths–made from the bark of a tree- shown while depicting scenario’s of grinding maize or wheat with a traditional mill. “I think that is the reason why we were chosen”, Akintije says.
Ray Wilson Nintunze, a Burundian fashion designer, mentions that the Rwandans also appreciated Burundi’s modeling style. “We are accustomed to seeingmodels exhibit their cloths and leave the stage immediately. But during this event, Burundian models used a special style, moving across the stage, constantly changing position to showcase the fashion”, Nintunze says. “They also appreciated my fashion, when I was wearing Burundi’s flag with traditional cloths, while holding the “Ingoma” drums.”
Despite the recent interest from our neighbours, Burundi is not very active in the fashion industry. “To exhibit Burundian culture in Burundi is somehow a taboo. The government and Burundians should place more stress on culture because it defines a country and shows its richness”, says Akingabiye, from ‘Agence Umuringa’.
Her colleague Nintunze calls upon investors to become more involved in fashion. “I invite investors interested in fashion to come and invest in Burundi because there is a lot of potential and talent in Burundi. They should set up professional sewing workshops andfashion studios.”