SHINING COLLECTIVELY

And so, here we are again in the thick of the fashion season in Kigali.

Last year during this time of style, lights and cameras, I was busy giving myself pep talks, wrestling the anxiety monster and focusing my energy on calming my nerves. It was the first time I was putting myself on a stage, attempting to gracefully usher people through a night of fashion and entertainment for the love of my hosting career and on behalf of the first Collective RW fashion week finale. I didn’t fall. I managed to formulate somewhat coherent sentences and I didn’t embarrass my entire family lineage so we can peg that experience as a success.

Amongst many firsts, and perhaps the most important, was the initiative of fashion designers coming together with a joint mission that reflects and elevates the fashion industry in Rwanda while aiming to propel the creative industry at large.

It was a beautiful message that turned into a beautiful night adorned with beautiful clothing, beautiful décor, and beautiful people. The energy in the room oozed of excitement, marvel and pride.

This year, I don’t have the pressure of assuming the hostess with the mostest role which is probably why my mind is able to free up space to ponder on the meaning and spirit around the word ‘collective’. According to Webster’s dictionary, the word can be defined as A) something that is done by people acting as a group or B) something that belongs or relates to all the members of a group.

Both definitions tug at the altruistic being in me and also speak to the idea of community and how much we need one another to get the best out of our experience on earth. While community in practice looks different from person to person, we can all agree that any time we’ve seen people come together to achieve something, it’s left a mark on our hearts.

Sure, we don’t always see eye to eye on what a collective effort should look like, or what we deem worthy of collaboration but it is important to note that any collective effort that has gone to impact the lives of a person, society or world took time to reach a place where people’s lives were being transformed. No doubt, it’s an uphill climb that undergoes a lot of trial and error but in the end, the ingredient that informs the success of an initiative isn’t camaraderie but rather a conviction that surpasses self and shines a light on reasons bigger than us that can’t be left without action.

This Saturday, as you sip on your entrance cocktails and exchange cheek kisses while taking in the energy you feel that night, I challenge you to think of ways you can contribute to the conversation every time you see, hear or feel something you don’t like. How can you cultivate your opinion, expertise and vision in a way that strengthens the effort already on ground?

Last year, on the night of the Collective Fashion Show, Rwanda was trending on the Twittersphere because the spirit of unity can’t be denied. I hope we we continue to collectively lift each other up with opportunity, inclusion and support so we can show ourselves and the world that we trend in all ways when we shine collectively.

 

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