Fashion and Photography in the Face of War

TWO LADIES; ONE WITH FASHION, THE OTHER WITH HER CAMERA ARE BRINGING NORMALCY BACK TO THEIR WAR-TORN TOWNS

When war tears down a nation, it takes more than just peace to restore the loss. It takes years of deliberate effort and hard work to help people in war torn zones return to normalcy. Akuja de Garang, a fashion designer and entrepreneur in South Sudan is doing her bit in helping her country move on from the war that has ravaged the country for years. South Sudan has been in a civil war since 2013. Thankfully, peace is returning to the country. The 41 year old mother has been the brain behind the Festival of Fashion and Arts for Peace in South Sudan, an annual festival that promotes and celebrates the South Sudanese culture.

  Akuja de Garang//  Source: edition.cnn.com/

Akuja de Garang// Source: edition.cnn.com/

Over the years, hosting the show has become even tougher as the war has displaced volunteers, artisan groups and other show assistants, with most of them displaced and untraceable. Also, inflation in South Sudan is currently at 450 percent and violence still looms all casting heavy weight on the planning, organization and running of the show.

  A South Sudanese model prepares backstage during the second edition of Festival for Fashion and Arts for Peace, featuring three South Sudanese designers, in the capital Juba, August 10, 2013. (Andreea Campeanu/Reuters)

A South Sudanese model prepares backstage during the second edition of Festival for Fashion and Arts for Peace, featuring three South Sudanese designers, in the capital Juba, August 10, 2013. (Andreea Campeanu/Reuters)

Last year, a curfew followed by a restriction on movement affected the festival, causing it not to hold, De Garang hopes the 2017 edition will be better than ever. Nothing is stopping her goal to preserving the culture, De Garang aims at using the festival as a tool to help her in connecting the people of South Sudan.

In a similar way, a young Nigerian girl, Fati Abubakar is helping build back the pieces of her broken city, Maiduguri, Borno State, through storytelling and photography. Fati took up her camera a couple of years back and started an Instagram handle @bitsofBorno, telling stories of life after Boko Haram.

 Fati Abubakar // www.npr.org/

Fati Abubakar // www.npr.org/

Boko Haram, the deadliest terrorist group in the world took the state down with violence and repeated bombings. The Nigerian army has recently announced victory as Sambisa forest, one of the terrorist group strongest hold in the state, was reclaimed. Things seem to be getting back to normal in the state and a fresh spirit of happiness is sweeping through Maiduguri as young people in the state partying and having fun in a bid to forget war and rebuild their lives.

A couple of weeks back the young photojournalist, Fati Abubakar through her Instagram page, @BitsOfBorno decided to project the young rappers and musicians in the formerly war-torn town of Maiduguri, documenting and telling their stories.

 

In a recent interview, she stated how the war had taken away the colour of the once lively city, saying that  “Borno has always been known for having the most flamboyant and colourful weddings… The insurgency slowed it, but now it’s back in full force. Everyone is eager to experience them again.”

The "Bits of Borno," explores the lives of those who have been affected by the unrest and the war. With her camera, she is determined to restore hope to young people in and around the city through her stories.

Akuja de Garang and Fati Abubakar are selling more than just hope, they are on their feet, pushing the hope agenda in their own little ways. Imagine pushing Fashion and Music in the face of war, it takes more than just mere courage.