Photogrpahy by Andreea Campeanu
I thought over and over again on how to start this piece with a clear and peaceful mind. That wasn’t possible; I kept on channeling other thoughts. Channeling the thoughts of those whose imaginations are simpler but far more important than mine. Let me help you understand what I mean by showing you.
Follow me to the South Sudan I want.
In 2014, while directing an annual fashion show I found one of my favorite places in Juba. A place with a view that I could stare at for hours and hours. A view that takes my mind into places I’ve never been. My memory of the children playing around the Nile on the other side makes me wonder; are we doing everything we can to make their lives better? Are they happy? Do they know that they can be anything they want to be? If we had a peaceful nation, the answer to all of these questions would be: YES.
The Da Vinci view makes me think: which other places around the country take our minds to places we need to be? Places where we are just humans loving and wanting better for each other. Places where we are able to imagine the South Sudan we want, the South Sudan we want for all of us. If we had a peaceful nation, the answer all of these thoughts would be yes.
Before my return to the motherland I lived in Malaysia. They had bookstores everywhere. Often, those bookstores were filled with students who are eager to learn and know better through books. My father and my grandfather have passed on the reading gene to me. Since I returned I couldn’t find a place to satisfy that gene until a friend introduced me to Leaves Bookstore.
Leaves bookstore takes me to places I’ve been, it also takes me to places where I wonder; do we know the value of this small store? Are we making sure our nation as a whole has access to such a store? Do we understand we need more across the country? If we had a peaceful nation, the answer to all of these thoughts would be; yes.
Having lived in Sudan, I have forever been in search of my identity. I love South Sudanese culture and where I come from. I get goosebumps when Ruth from the Roots Project tells me where the pieces of jewelry, kitenge or beads come from. More than that, the women who make them have a special bond with each piece. My favorite till date is that Taposa head piece that I am so in love with. I must try it on every time I visit The Roots Project store.
The Store takes you to a place where you feel you belong. Everything around you has a story that gives you an idea of who you are. That you are South Sudan. Again, I wonder, do we know that some of our questions can be answered at such a simple, colorful and cultural place? Are there any other women / men who can teach us about the history of South Sudan through culture across the country? If we had a peaceful nation, we would be able to go to Torit, Bor, Yei, Aweil, Nasir and more. And the answer to all of these questions would be, yes.
This one is very close to my heart. Why you ask? Follow me and I’ll show you.
As I mentioned before, I lived in Malaysia for a few years. During those years of University I enjoyed a modeling career. I loved the designers’ passion. They had a story behind their designs that connected them to their roots most of the time. Maybe I wasn’t always sure of my identity but I knew one thing that strongly connected me to my roots; the beauty of my dark skin. House of Bany designs connect me even more because of the stories or simple creativity behind the designs.
House of Bany takes me to a modern world South Sudan. A South Sudan where South Sudanese culture, beauty, creativity and talent are celebrated in fashion.
I initially meant for this piece to show you a different side of Juba. Plot Twist: this piece has shown me a different side of me. I thought of what is always on my mind, which is peace in South Sudan. I put myself in others shoes and found a different type of love in between my thoughts. The type of love where I want all South Sudanese to have favorite places in all parts of the country. I found love I never knew I had. Love deeper than places I want to be. I found the love of humanity. I found love where the places I love being at take me to. I’ll call that place; the South Sudan I want to live in.