South Sudan—A few nations have seen their dreams and hopes dashed as quickly and ruthlessly as South Sudan. A mere two years after thousands thronged the streets of capital Juba, to celebrate independence from Sudan’s autocratic rule, the country descended into a brutal civil war.
The fallout between President Salva Kiir and vice president tuned Riek Machar, and the subsequent fight exerted a terrible toll. Between 2013 and 2018, up to 400,000 people were killed and 4 million a third of the country’s population displaced amid numerous reports of ethnic-based atrocities like rape and murder.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest country still faces an insurgency in the south of the country and rampant localized violence elsewhere. Ethno political tensions remain high and could be unleashed again by the next presidential elections, which were scheduled for 2022, though it may be delayed.
Though South Sudan is still painted ugly on the outside, a group of young people in the country specialized in fashion and design say they want to help change the country’s image by showcasing locally designed clothes that are increasingly capturing eyes in the fashion world.
“If we can come up with something that can help us boost and empower ourselves then we can do it.” Spoke Ghum Barnabaas Kulang, founder of Kulang Enterprises.
Ghum began his designing company in 2018, with a focus on fashionable suits and colorful dresses made from African prints. He believes creating a national brand is important for the morale of South Sudanese people.
“So, the inspiration is, I want us to have an identity, as well, we should have something that is commonly known in us, because it’s not basically the rivalries of the war. We also have a good architecture in terms of culture as well as fashion designs.”
Even with the move and sentiments of Ghum, most of the designers say their biggest challenge is finding the money to fund their small businesses.