It is not often that you see Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) engage in fashion activities but a show that happened this weekend proved that there is nothing people who have disabilities cannot do.
It was on Friday night when models with physical disabilities, skin disabilities such as albinos, mute, deaf and blind hit the runway to show off their modeling and fashion skills at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village –Camp Kigali.
A total of 27 models mainly from Rwanda showcased collections of designers from DR Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. Besides modelling, the models also showcased their other talents to the audience.
There was a sign language interpreter for people with hearing impairment. Both disabled and non-disabled fashion enthusiasts attended the maiden show in their hundreds.
Trained by Rwanda’s big names in the industry like Eric Sekamana, the models did their thing on the stage –the first time the show has gone regional.
Catwalk sessions were divided into five segments featuring five different collections. Dubbed “Ne me jette pas” [don’t cast me away], the first catwalk was a barefoot freestyle that let the audience see the models’ disabilities to demystify the stigma around disability.
With dramatic Jembe music in the background, they enacted the discrimination they experience as they lined up on the runway, showing off their skills, one by one.
The second appearance was a collection of professional and office wear to show that people with disabilities, like any other person, are entitled to dreams, achievements, goals and success.
There was excitement as a boy with a physical disability danced away to Bruno Mars’ ‘24K Magic’, his breakdance moves fascinating everyone, as he spun and flipped.
Other collections consisted of traditional and geometrical clothing. Solid-color jackets, kitenge prints fused with glowing chains were showcased as Rhumba music played in the background.
It was easy to tell that the designer, Elie Bishikwabo comes from DR Congo. The designer is behind Bac Fashion house based in Bukavu, DR Congo.
LG Novida, a Congolese fashion designer based in Kampala showcased his classic Afro-American collection representing TMP Empire from the United States.
Domestic fashion houses such as Mira Models and Mundi’s Elegance Africaine added colour to the show with their casual clothing.
The Member of Parliament representing PWDs, Eugene Mussolini was present. In his speech, he highlighted the challenges they face particularly in transport where a person with a wheelchair is asked to pay four times the usual bus ticket.
The show was started in DR Congo, by Fondation Continentale but it is the first time it has been held in Rwanda at a regional level.
The event was spiced up by local artistes and others from DR Congo. Rapper Lil G entertained the crowd off the ground.