Meet DENG DUNGA, the first Mr World South Sudan
DENG DUNGA, the first Mr World South Sudan, has immersed himself into the world of fashion and is holding space for those in need of it. He takes CYNTHIA MUKANZI on a trail of what has been his making
Has modelling indulged your aspirations?
It has. It has opened many doors for me and given me a clear path to achieve most of my life goals. I am not where I ultimately want to be, but I can honestly say, we are headed there. With a gentle nudge from a close friend, I got into modelling in 2014 and I have never looked back since.
As the first Mr World South Sudan, does the crown come heavy with pressure?
Yes, it comes with a unique set of responsibilities. I have a big role in shaping how the youth perceive the role, especially in the fashion industry. I, therefore, need to set high standards for myself and Mr World and motivate everyone to be part of the journey.
How was your experience at the Mr World contest in Manila?
I will call it a great eye opener. I learned a lot about leadership, co-existence with people from different parts of the world and in general, I would say my experience has been informative and motivating in what I do.
Which memories from the pageant have stuck on you?
Everything about the contest is deeply lodged in my memory; from the food, culture to interactions with fellow contestants. I consider myself a sponge absorbing everything, especially that which nurtures me wholly.
You describe yourself as a high fashion model. What does that mean?
Being a high fashion model means I showcase designer clothes or designer pieces on runways or publications for purposes of marketing. It could be what may be available in the designer collection for that particular season. Think of it as a breathing and living mannequin.
What prompted the creation of your fashion line Dunga Apparel?
Dunga Apparel started as a response to my love for fashion. As a designer, I pride myself in what I wear because it’s the first thing that people see when they meet you. How well do you present yourself?
I have an eye for specific fashion and the lack of it to quench my fashion taste led to the birth of Dunga Apparel.
I come up with the concept and draw the pieces while working with a team of highly skilled tailors who execute my vision.
You vowed to dedicate 30 per cent of the sales made on Dunga Apparels towards securing the future of South Sudan children through education. Has the initiative taken off?
Educating the youth has always been my dream and it gives me profound joy to say that we have identified children who are going to benefit from this pilot project. The first cohort will commence school in 2020.
Does this project mean you have split your time between Kenya and Sudan?
Though it comes with its challenges, I work with a team of youth both in Kenya and South Sudan to implement our vision.
I find it an effective way to mentor and expose the youth to leadership qualities as we work together.
It must take a lot to keep a clothing line thriving, right?
That’s right. I constantly reinvent my designs, keeping them fresh, edgy and fun. Though my target market has been the South Sudanese living in Kenya, diaspora and even southern Sudan, I am constantly looking to expand my market.
It hasn’t been easy to attract my target market, but we are gradually getting there.
Do you feel compelled to always dress up?
Honestly, I do not feel the pressure to always dress up. I normally wear clothes that I’m comfortable in and feel confident in.
Have you always been stylish?
I have always had an eye for fashion, but I never considered it as being stylish or fashionable (laughs).
I believe being stylish is wearing and living a lifestyle that one would consider comfortable or even have enough to enable them to always put their best foot forward, no matter the circumstances.
Which dream runway do you want to take on?
As I pave way for the next crown holder, my dream runway would be the New York Fashion Week or Paris Fashion Week.
Which fashion icon do you draw life lessons from?
That would be from David Gandhi. I love what he represents and stands for in the fashion world.