When Belgium’s iconic sculpture was draped with Rwandan attire again

Rwandans living in Belgium pose by the Manneken Pis statue in Brussels after it was draped in Rwandan traditional gard. This was on July 4, to mark Rwanda’s 25th liberation anniversary. / Courtesy

Manneken Pis, the landmark bronze sculpture in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, received a Rwandan fashion makeover recently, as part of activities to mark 25 years of Rwanda’s liberation.

The sculpture, which depicts a naked boy urinating into a fountain’s basin, was first put in place in 1618, although the current statue is a replica which dates back to 1965. Manneken Pis is Belgian-Dutch for “Little Pisser”. It has been described as the ‘best-known symbol of the city of Brussels, a reminder of the great sense of humour for which the city’s inhabitants are known.

To mark the 25th anniversary of Rwanda’s Liberation Day in Belgium, local fashion brand Moshions dressed Manneken-Pis in a culturally inspired Rwandan costume known as Umushanana. The statue looked regal in an ensemble made up of Igisingo, a beaded black and white royal crown; Umwitero, a Rwandan fashion statement that dates back to the 1920s, and Inkindi, the attire worn by male traditional dancers (Intore) for cultural performances.

The outfit, with its custom prints and vivid colors, is from the brand’s latest collection titled; Inkingi.

The Manneken Pis statue looks majestic in Rwandan cultural wear. / Courtesy

The move was made possible through cooperation between the Embassy of Rwanda in Belgium, and the city of Brussels. It is the second time in its history that the landmark statue has been draped in Rwandan clothing.

70 years ago, on May 3, 1949, then King Mutara III Rudahigwa of Rwanda gifted the statue a costume.

In his remarks, Rwandan Ambassador to Belgium, Amandin Rugira noted that the re-introduction of Rwandan outfits on the statue signifies the cordial relations between Belgium and Rwanda.

The envoy further lauded the Made-in-Rwanda initiative that encourages Rwandans to buy and consume locally made products, including clothes.

“This costume contributes to a national goal: Under the Made in Rwanda policy, Rwanda is promoting local textile and fashion industries and has reduced imports of second-hand clothing,” he said.

Moses Turahirwa, the Creative Director of Moshions described the development as ‘an exciting recognition to Rwanda’s creative industry:

“I am very proud to see Rwanda being represented on this important day. Umushanana is a representation of our identity. Despite our tragic history, our culture dawned with a promising future filled with creatives and dreamers who now reach a global scene. This experience is yet another honour for Rwanda’s leading fashion brand,” Turahirwa said.

In May, Moshions was in the news, after it dressed Sophia, the world-famous humanoid robot in Umushanana at the Transform Africa Summit held in Kigali.


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