This Viral Photo Highlights The Power Of Fashion

Using clothing as a tool for protest has become increasingly more common over the last century. From the all-white uniform of the Suffragettes in England, to the yellow vests worn to protest taxes on the working class in France, to the protest t-shirts and body paint at women’s marches around the world, fashion is now the exclamation mark on political movement.


This idea once again proved true when a captivating photo of the current Sudanese uprising went viral. In the image, hundreds of people can be seen gathered around a woman standing on top of a car. The woman is wearing a white tobe with a black hijab and large gold earrings. A thread created by activist and podcast host Hind Makki explained why the fashion in the image was so powerful. “She’s wearing a white tobe (outer garment) and gold moon earrings. The white tobe is worn by working women in offices and can be linked w/cotton (a major export of Sudan), so it represents women working as professionals in cities or in the agricultural sector in rural areas,” she wrote. She also explained that the gold earrings are traditionally worn in weddings and are thought to be a symbol of feminism.  


She went on, “Her entire outfit is also a callback to the clothing worn by our mothers & grandmothers in the 60s, 70s, & 80s who dressed like this during while they marched the streets demonstrating against previous military dictatorships.” 


According to The Guardianprotests in the Sudan first erupted in December 2018 when the government tripled the price of bread and fuel. The protesters, many of whom were women and students, began to march on the capital demanding the overturn of the current government run by Omar al-Bashir. Al-Bashir took power by a military coup during political unrest in 1989. 


The woman in the photo taken by Lana H. Haroun, might be using a tactic we’ve seen employed here in the United States in recent years. While attempting to address the current issues the people of the country are facing, she is also paying homage to the women who came before her to fight for the rights of the people. In a similar way, female US Congress-members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore all white during their swearing ceremonies. “I wore all-white today to honor the women who paved the path before me, and for all the women yet to come,” AOC tweeted at the time. 


According to the thread created by Mikki, many of the female protesters are being referred to as “Kandaka.” She explains that Kandaka is “the title given to the Nubian queens of ancient Sudan whose gift to their descendants is a legacy of empowered women who fight hard for their country and their rights.” 


What better way to represent that legacy than through through your actions and how people see them? 





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