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« Life of integrity | Main | The Point Radio: A Time for Everything »

October 23, 2008

Fashionable Peace

Amani2 Sankofa reminds me of Chantale.

At a ballroom in Springfield at Sankofa's fourth, and final, stop along its American tour, 10 beautiful African girls glide down a runway, stunning off-the-shoulder dresses gracing their varying figures. But their faces are long, and the baskets they tout on their heads are like the burdens they used to carry.

"Sankofa" means "Look back--Walk forward" and this is the beginning of the three-fold story it tells: separation to transformation to celebration. The clothing, the music, the facial expressions reflect each of these stages.

Sankofa represents 70 women with a broken past. Many are refugees from war-torn African nations (Uganda, Congo, Burundi). They come to Amani ya Juu with tales of violence, sickness, and abandonment. But through Bible studies, prayer, and an opportunity to learn how to sew beautiful fabrics (available for sale), including the clothes the models are wearing, "Amani" ("peace") begins to peek through.

Sankofa is the African story we so rarely hear, when there are genocides in Sudan, gang rapes in the Congo, and murders for voting "incorrectly" in Zimbabwe. But the women of Amani remind us that peace is possible, even when peace is threatened in their very backyard. After the ethnic conflict that took place in Kenya earlier in the year, the women at Amani faced possible internal divisions as a result of their varying ethnic backgrounds. Instead, they they practiced "Amani" and grew closer.

As the narrative progresses, the clothes gain color, the music gains tempo, and the runway gait gains spunk. By the celebration portion of the show, the girls are practically dancing down the aisle, bright smiles showing off the peace Amani has taught them to find in Christ.

The girls bow, the lights go out. And I think of Chantale, wishing she were up there on the runway. She could be.

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Comments

Gina Dalfonzo

I'll second Zoe's glowing review.

And here's a behind-the-scenes account with some photos:

http://ministryupdates.blogspot.com/2008/10/after-feast.html

Thanks to my friend Lou Ann for the tip.

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