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The Burundi of Today

Margaux Wong2020/2020

Design Indaba

Design Indaba
Cape Town, South Africa

The below artwork is a submission by Margaux Wong for Design Indaba’s collaborative project with Google Arts & Culture titled Colors of Africa. Africa is known for its bold, unapologetic use of color. Stories are told in pigments, tones and hues; a kaleidoscope as diverse as the cultures and peoples of the continent. For Color Hunting, we asked 55 African creatives from 55 African countries and territories to capture the unique spirit of their home in a particular shade.
The projects they have created are personal and distinct stories of Africa, put into images, videos, texts and illustrations. Each artist has also attempted to articulate what being African means to their identity and view of the world.
Explore the continent through the eyes of the inspired.

Artwork rationale:

Burundi experienced decades of civil war and genocide – conflict between the tribes who call it home. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children perished at the hands of hate and ignorance. With every soul that passed away, hope was eroded. Then one day the violence had stopped.

White is the color of peace.

Children filled the streets again, mamas with baskets of fruit went back to the bustling market and old men were able to sit under mango trees for shade. We live in a period of time that is defined by a profound sense of peace.

The Burundi flag is the main inspiration behind my Colour Hunting composition and the creation of a suit of armour that symbolises this new era. The white that runs through the flag represents peace.

While a soldier’s armour protects him from the harms of war, this horn armour protects against the negatives in life. It protects Burundi from hatred amongst its people, it brings us closer to peace and freedom. It keeps away the negative spirit of the past.

Nearly half of our country is under the age of 19. They will change the narrative. They will wear the armour of peace, not war, and the stories they tell their children will be ones of harmony.

In my images a courageous Burundian girl sits poised on a wooden stool carved by a local sculptor. This girl is clothed in white – a representation of peace. She is draped in red cotton, representative of the suffering of the nation during its freedom struggle. The green grass around her symbolises hope. White, green and red – the colors of our flag.

She is proud and free. She is the nation.

The Margaux Wong Armour, made of local cow horn, is a symbol of courage and strength. The black and white pattern depicts peace and friendship among all people.

In Burundi, the cow is a symbol of wealth and the horns are the lasting evidence of that wealth. They are a reminder of what was, and what is still is to come. The country was plagued by poverty for many years, but Burundi’s people are set to reclaim all of the wealth they have lost over the years.

Nearly half of the Burundian population is under the age of 19 and our country is brimming with vision, potential, energy, dreams and creativity. They will change the narrative of this country. They will wear the armour of peace, not war, and the stories they tell at the ends of their lives will be ones of harmony.

What it means to be African:

Caribbean descendants of African slaves like myself had their heritage ripped from their fore-parents, who were stolen from their African homes, communities and countries. As an African woman, I am at home. Being African means having freedom and an intrinsic tie and ownership to my African ancestry, culture, heritage, future and inheritance. My children will always know their genesis and possess a freedom that Africa gives to her children – freedom to live, flourish and leave a beautiful living legacy for generations to come.

Artwork rationale:

Margaux Rusita is a Guyanese-Burundian sustainable jewellery designer based in Burundi, East Africa. Her company, Margaux Wong, is an innovative and sustainable brand that transforms rare cow horn and brass into luxurious wearable art.

Rusita has been passionately working as an ethically driven designer for more than 18 years and her designs are heavily influenced by everyday experiences.

As a creative director, she constantly works with her team to produce uniquely distinguished artisan jewellery using sometimes-tedious traditional techniques. Over the years, she has mentored hundreds of young designers in Burundi, passing on a wealth of learnings and techniques in sustainable design.

Details

  • Title: The Burundi of Today
  • Creator: Margaux Wong
  • Date Created: 2020/2020
  • Medium: Cow horn
  • Location: Burundi

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