Eli Gold, a Rwandan-born fashion designer and visual artist fled his home when he was 13 years old as his country was ravaged by civil war and genocide, embarking on a journey that took him across several African countries. After leaving Rwanda, Gold lived in Tanzania, Burundi, and Malawi, among other places, before settling in South Africa.

Gold now uses art and fashion to express his passion for Africa.

“By living in those places, I was able to understand what Africa is about and meet different cultures… the inspiration that I use in my creativity comes from various African cultures,” Gold explained.

At an event in Johannesburg on Tuesday to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, his company, Masa Mara, unveiled its latest fashion collections.

Models on the catwalk displayed his “Migration Is Beautiful, Destroy All Borders” collection of vibrant African prints, which is a call to embrace migration. Like much of Gold’s work, he was inspired by his own experiences.

I wanted to show that we can have a beautiful united Africa if we come together, understand, and embrace one another,” he said of his work. “I always say that if the garments can match and show harmony and togetherness, so can we [as] people.

Nyambo MasaMara is another name for Gold. After he styled his hair into the shape of bull horns, he was given the name Nyambo, which means “a long-horned Rwandan cow.”

“Beyond Borders” a choreographed show in which a spirit travels through space and time to an Africa without borders or limits to creativity, is one of his other projects. In addition to visual art and design, his “Gift of Life” exhibition incorporates movement.

“I come from a broken nation, and we’re now repairing ourselves and reuniting better than ever,” Gold said.

“It was a country that I was not proud to be a part of when I left (Rwanda),” Gold said. “However, when I returned (in 2017), it made me extremely proud to be Rwandan.”

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