Event photos, courtesy of Ghislane Kasanga (see more of his work on instagram @g2k.photography).
In November, Soft Landing Missoula partnered with a collective group of local Missoula Congolese artists and designers We Are Congo for an exciting and dynamic evening of fashion, dance, poetry, and art at the ZACC. These unique expressions of fashion, dance, music, and art helped communicate their individual experiences in the world as Congolese, refugees, artists, and Missoulians.
Soft Landing Missoula was fortunate to receive a generous offer from MCAT (Missoula Community Access Television) for their production and documentary services to help capture this amazing event, which you can view here.
Each of these amazing community members continues their individual artistic pursuits; learn more about each effort below and ways to support them!:
Moses Bushiri – An activist and artist originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Moses left the DRC at age 14 and lived in neighboring Burundi with his family for 15 years before arriving in the United States in 2018. Moses values the ability art has to build connections and communicate life’s many experiences. He works primarily with poetry, painting, drawing, and drumming to spread messages of hope, share Congolese culture, and comment on current events. After finding peace here in Missoula, Moses hopes for world peace. He virtually leads a group of 5,000 young men, who remain in the DRC, who discuss how to move towards a brighter future in the DRC. For change to happen, Moses says, “everybody needs to think about the future of the country, to have a vision.
Esther Bushiri – A student at the University of Montana, Esther brought her love for dancing and modeling from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi to Missoula in 2018. When Esther is dancing, she always finds happiness. Dancing has become a way for her to escape from the sadness in the world, remain positive, and build community. In addition to dance, Esther turns to Sapologie Au Congo, a movement that embodies elegance and style in fashion. “When you look good, you have a fresh start despite what may have happened in your life.” She misses her friends and the noise of the cities in Burundi, but has found a home here in the mountains where she values the friendly people who have welcomed her and her family. Esther hopes for peace in the world, especially in the DRC. She uses art, dance, and humour to spread this message.
Safi Wakusolela & Elongo Gabriel – Safi and Elongo met 18 years ago in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Safi was a singer in Kinshasa and Elongo was studying at the university. When Elgono first met Safi he felt something different. When Safi is singing she takes Elongo to a new place of hope and inspiration because of her natural and unique voice. When Safi is singing she feels on top of the world and is able to embody her spirituality at its fullest. When Safi isn’t singing she enjoys cooking and styling hair. Elongo and Safi miss their culture and community back in Africa, but have found a love for their new home in Missoula. They enjoy getting to experience all four seasons and the educational opportunities for their 5 children. Find more of their music on youtube.
Charly & Luc Mugondozi – Chukastyle, also known as Charly Mugondozi, and his brother Luc Mugondozi, were born in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They became inspired to learn more about fashion design after seeing the work of Hotstyle (Austin), a Congolese designer, at a fashion school in the DRC. Chukastyle loves how fashion allows him to incorporate traditional styles with his own creative style. In addition to designing apparel, he is a model. Chukastyle is excited to share his style with fellow Missoulians while not forgetting his roots in the DRC. Luc loves fashion because it showcases the styles and traditions of the DRC. Through this medium, Luc is able to add his own creativity and build upon the knowledge and style of his ancestors. After a career of teaching about fashion and design in Uganda, Luc is excited to share his styles with his fellow Missoulians.
Lorenzo Mugondozi – Lorenzo is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and came to Missoula via Kampala, Uganda in the winter of 2019. He has been drawn to the creative world since he was very young and enjoys painting, clothing design, and being a DJ. He hopes that through his art people can get a glimpse of Africa and the impact and strength that the continent has brought to the world.
Ghislane Kasanga – A student at the University of Montana with a side passion for photography, Ghislane is learning about and studying photography in addition to his study of Computer Science. He is available for photoshoots by request, feel free to email him directly: [email protected] !
How you can support We Are Congo!
Buy greeting cards: Available at Soft Landing Missoula offices, packets of 6 cards featuring three designs (2 of each) created by Moses & Lorenzo, are available for $20.
Support Chukastyle by buying their clothes or commissioning a unique piece! Inquiries can be directed to Greta at Soft Landing: [email protected]
Listen to Safi & Elongo & follow them on YouTube!
Need a photographer for portraits or cultural events? Reach out to Ghislane [email protected]
ART FOR A UNIFIED WORLD