Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Conflict to Clean

In 1997, Zaire became the Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC – after 30 years of dictatorship. The new name struck a cord with two Congolese cousins living in North Carolina and it was while one was in college and the other in the Navy, that their ideas to start a conscious clothing line began to spark. Then, Eric Ndelo made a trip to Europe and upon visiting Belgium discovered the lack of Congolese representation in clothing. His return home marked the beginning of what would soon be a burning desire to bring awareness, and ultimately solutions, to the struggles of Pan African communities through fashion. Roderick Vakala, his cousin, and two other college friends agreed and in 2004 the first T-shirts were made. This burst of energy and creativity came from the line’s first theme “Rocking Your History on Your Chest!”, and today our style has grown into the exclamation “It’s Cool to be Conscious!”

The company flame grows stronger and we have begun to focus on sending our messages at the global level. To do this we are partnering with Enough, a project to end genocide and crimes against humanity, on a campaign to bring full transparency to the on-going, highly profitable business of extracting conflict minerals and processing them into electronics that we use today, like cell phones and laptops. These communities are at the ground level of this risky process where lives are lost and families are disconnected, and many choose it for a simple but very real reason – to put food on the table. So, the idea is to turn these “conflict minerals” into “clean minerals” by bringing awareness to the global community of the problems caused by this business and by influencing the governmental powers and international controls to put pressure on the appropriate parties.

To combat struggles of this nature – for food, survival and livelihood – action is required. Not just talk, but action. Enough’s mission statement begins like this:

The Enough Project is helping to build a permanent constituency to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity. Too often, the United States and the larger international community have taken a wait-and-see approach to crimes against humanity. This is unconscionable.

Our mindset is that this type of injustice requires strong action and dedicated prevention and that is what binds the relationship between our two organizations. We offer a creative, colorful connection that speaks to people through clothing, and Enough is the direct and calculated voice of knowledge and experience regarding solutions on a global scale. Together we believe we can have a great impact on bringing the pain inflicted by these atrocities to an end.

See us “speak” at SPARKcon!

No comments:

Post a Comment