South Sudan Uses Fashion To Appeal For Peace
South Sudan’s capital, Juba, recently played host to the Fashion and Arts for Peace Festival South Sudan, to raise money and awareness to the plight of thousands of South Sudanese who have been affected by the country’s current political crisis.
The world’s newest nation has been besieged by a political crisis, where at least 10,000 people have been killed since fierce fighting erupted in South Sudan in December, pitting President Salva Kiir’s government forces against supporters of Riek Machar, his former deputy and long-time political rival.
Adding to the country’s many problems, aid agencies recently said that South Sudan could be headed for the worst famine since the mid-1980s, when malnutrition swept through East Africa and killed over a million people.
However, organisers behind the festival are hoping to inspire South Sudanese to come together and showcase some of the country’s riches, including culture and fashion.
In its second edition, the festival aims to promote peace and tolerance in South Sudan through artistic expression.
It’s not just about dazzling designs and the CatWalk, the show also featured dancing, singing, food and fashion. The event also provided a platform for artisans and artists to show and sell their works, showcasing jewellery and other fashion items made from local materials and designs that they hope would have global appeal.
Event founder and organiser, Akuja Garang, hopes that the festival would help South Sudanese see that they have more that unites than separates them.
With so many items to choose from, from jewellery, clothes and books, many visitors said that they were spoilt for choice and Garang said she hopes that the event can also help change perceptions of South Sudan and promote a positive image of the country.
Combat in the nation that won independence from Sudan in 2011 has played out along deep ethnic fault lines, with Kiir’s Dinka community battling Machar’s Nuer.
More than one million people have been displaced by the violence and more than 400,000 have fled the country. According to U.N. officials, the U.N. Peacekeeping Operation in South Sudan is sheltering nearly 100,000 civilians at its bases.
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