Legendary singer Maria Yohana Mukankuranga and One Shot Photography and Design have launched an annual fashion show dubbed, “Ndabaga Pan-African Fashion”.
Maria Yohana, as the 71-year old singer is commonly known, is one of the country’s liberation icons thanks to her popular liberation songs, and many regard her as a symbol of Rwandan culture and mother figure.
The “Ndabaga Pan-African Fashion show”, held at Grand Legacy Hotel Remera last Friday, is an experience by Africans for African heritage inspired by cultural heroine Ndabaga, a legendary girl in Rwanda’s folklore, who is said to have broken with tradition and went to the battlefield so her father (who had no son) could return home and rest like his colleagues who had sons.
The gala event, which lasted three hours, started at 7p.m with the first set of local and foreign models hitting the runway. The launch was well attended and it exhibited a variety of materials and fabrics by local and other professional fashion designers from Burundi, DR Congo and Uganda.
The outfits showcased ranged from evening wear, casual, wedding gowns and summer outfits.
Kadunda and The Benqs Inganzo Ngari entertained the audience with lively traditional performances. Another highlight of the evening was an audio-visual tribute to heroine Ndabaga that was screened.
Maria Yohana said the fashion show was named after Ndabaga, who dressed up as a boy so she could represent her father at the battlefield.
“Ndabaga was a heroine and an inspiration for us; she is a great example for us all. A hero is someone who thinks of something extraordinary and goes out of his or her way to achieve it,” she said. “If you have a talent, go out of your comfort zone and work hard and also have faith in what you are doing. That way, you will achieve your dream.”
“The event aims to share our culture with fellow Africans. We want to bring together our cultures so that we can all learn from each other,” she added, before wishing all those present a Happy New Year.
It was an evening of reflection as Maria Yohana and Jean Pierre Hakizayezu also entertained the audience with the song “Ndabaga”.
Congolese designer Bebi Katualubala showcased her kitenge collections, while Olivier Gucci Niyitanga, of Tanga Designs, followed with both men’s and women’s costumes.
Guy Maza and Krystal Bella Shabani, from Burundi, also wowed the crowds with unique designs. Maza had mostly black long dresses with white and black abstract patterns, while Krystal displayed variation with wide kitenge dresses.
“The show was very good, the costumes were very good. And I was very happy. You dream first before you achieve. They are off to a good start,” said Benoni Ninsima, a local student.
Claire Kayihura, who attended the show with her children, said, “These are young people with a vision in their discipline. God bless them in their endeavours. The fashion show was fun.”
Speaking on behalf of One Shot Photography and Design, Christian Dominique Murinda, said, “We want people to wake up and work hard. We commend those who took part in this event and showcased great talents”.
“We were inspired by Ndabaga and Maria Yohana. It wasn’t easy. We are organising the main show in March, it will be bigger and better.”