South Sudanese in Ugandan Fashion industry
Papa J at his store/shop
By Nana Alfred
Jido Dominic known as Papa J is one of the most famous young South Sudanese working in Arua Park Kampala.
Jido left Juba and went to Kampala in 2011 where he began a new life in the foreign city selling phones and memory cards which he revealed the business had landed him into so many problems to the extent of being locked in jail.
Being a conductor and taxi driver later along the Gudele-Juba Road in the year 2010, Jido told Juba Monitor that he was not contented or satisfied with the life in Juba hence forcing him to seek for better opportunities in Kampala.
“When I came to Kampala in 2011, life was hard, I ventured in selling phones that I got from friends to make a living. Some of those phones were stolen although I did realize but this put me into trouble and in jail several times,” Jido said.
Whenever he gets into problems, Jido said he was always rescued by some of his loyal friends. “My friends, mostly Ugandans have always been there for me the entire time. For instance each time I am arrested they would stand for me till I am out of detention.”
Jido said despite the challenges, he was still able to rent a space in one of the shopping Malls at Arua Park at two hundred USD where he currently sells his clothes to both Ugandans and South Sudanese.
He buys most of his clothes from Owino market-one of the Kampala’s most famous shopping arena.
“I buy unique and latest trending clothes from Owino very early in the morning every day and bring them to my boutique,” Jido said.
With the savings Jido is making, he is able to rent a room, feed himself in Kampala and support his family.
However, the businessman said he wants to go back to school to study engineering course but the economic constraint was putting his plan on hold.
“The money that I get from my business is not enough but hopefully if I save enough I will go back to school. If there is anyone out there willing to pay to sponsor me, I would be ready to go back to school,” Jido said.
Uganda is currently home to millions of South Sudanese who fled the country; many are doing their best to make a living in foreign land.
Silver X, a famous South Sudanese artist, now based in Kampala, is designed by Papa J. He told Juba Monitor that his fellow youth in Uganda should be productive. “I am so proud of our own Papa J making it big in the Ugandan fashion industry. His taste of style is different and this explains why he is a popular brand,” Silver X told Juba Monitor in a separate interview.
Silver X just opened international recording studio in Kampala recently. A studio where most South Sudanese artists in Uganda wish to record their songs from.
Case Blanco, a South Sudanese reggae artist based in Kampala suburbs of Muyenga said that Papa Jay is the man behind all his trending fashion. “Every time I need something unique concerning style Papa Jay gets me sorted out. His taste of fashion is one of a kind,” Case said.
Papa J has also designed celebrities such as Small Dad, Selector Majok, MT7 and Ugandan artists like Gravity Omutuzvu and many others.
Matovu Aloysius who runs a grocery shop next to Papa J’s Boutique told Juba Monitor that Papa J is a social and hardworking person.
“When Papa J joined us here, everyone around loved him because of the way he treats people. He is popular in Arua Park because of his social life,” Matovu said.
Being linguistic has made Papa J’s work in Kampala simple, he talked of speaking over ten languages such as Acholi, Arabic, Nubian, Kiswahili, Luganda, English, Lugwara and Bari.
Papa Jay doesn’t dream of returning back to South Sudan because he feels that he is very comfortable and loved in Uganda. He hopes to save enough money and open up one of the biggest Boutiques in Kampala.
“I dream big and believe that one day I will own the biggest boutique for youth in Kampala,” he said.
With the name Papa Jay has built, he has been recognized in various fashion shows in Kampala such as the Bryans Fashion event that happens annually.
There are so many South Sudanese in Uganda trying to make a living by engaging themselves in different micro economic activities. And they are doing a very good job at it.
Working hard in a different country gets hard and comes with many struggles. Many are suffering but the spirit of not giving up pours upon many young ambitious South Sudanese youth and that’s what drives them forward.