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Friday 18 September 2020
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Burundians in the Diaspora: The wonderful story of Esther KAMATARI, the Burundian Princess who became the first Black model in France!

Burundians in the Diaspora: The wonderful story of Esther KAMATARI, the Burundian Princess who became the first Black model in France!

Princess Esther KAMATARI, daughter of Prince Ignace KAMATARI (brother of King Mwambutsa IV), became the first Black model in France where she was exiled in 1970s while Burundi was facing instability. Despite various challenges, she has come a long way through her hard work since the initial uncertainty. She ended up making history with her modeling career. As she affirms, she wouldn’t have found such a success if it wasn’t for “Her Royal Highness” status.

 

“In the minds of some people, Africa is slaves, it’s dirty, it’s nothing. And people think that to be a princess or prince is about money. But nobody talks about duty, education, or leading by example. Things like that”

Princess Esther KAMATARI from Burundi lives in Paris, France. ©DR

 

As Princess Esther KAMATARI recounted, though she spent her early age as a princess in Burundi, while in France people didn’t believe she was ‘a real princess‘ as well as she was from Africa. “Some people have asked me, ‘Are you a real princess?’ Because people don’t think in Africa we used to have kingdoms and empires,” she explained.

 

She adds, “In the minds of some people, Africa is slaves, it’s dirty, it’s nothing”. And people think that to be a princess or prince is about money. But nobody talks about duty, education, or leading by example. Things like that”.

 

Consequently, she was forced to grow up sooner than most children, in hard conditions due to the lifestyle change.

 

Being a princess, the right way to the fashion world!

 

 

At that time, things were easier and you didn’t feel differences because we were professional and there was elegance. We don’t have that elegance in the fashion industry today

Princess Esther KAMATARI during a photo shoot in the 1980s.©DR

 

Regardless of all challenges faced by Princess Esther KAMATARI, Her Royal Highness (HRH) title helped her shield the profession she has today.

 

For Princess Esther KAMATARI, “When you are young, you don’t think, you work”. In this regard, the princess who turned catwalk star believes that, during the time that she was starting out in the 1970s, the fashion industry was “more curious and more open“. It was eventually this attitude and her royal status that helped her to be published in an American high society magazine. “You know, it is a very conservative magazine. You have to be blonde with blue eyes,” she states.

 

Afterwards, as she kept up modeling, she became the first Black model in France. She has since worked with the likes of Lanvin, Paco Rabanne, Pucci, and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Also, since 2010, she has trained models for Culture and Creation, a fashion show held in France that aims to unite 40 nationalities in the fashion world.

 

Princess Esther asserts, “At that time, things were easier and you didn’t feel differences because we were professional and there was elegance. We don’t have that elegance in the fashion industry today“.

 

Even so, she explains that the world still had a long way to go when it came to inclusivity. She would rarely find makeup that was made for Black women, and then often ended up using products that belonged to her friends.

 

For this reason, she says, “When you arrive from very far in a society where you are going to live, you have to work. Everything that happens in your life is because you meet someone who gives you the road. Because we need each other. You give me hands, tomorrow I will give those hands to someone else.”

 

Both princess and global artist!

 

You will always meet someone on a similar path, who can further help you. That’s how I met Henri [Estramant, founding director of Royal Bridges], who connected me with royal houses across the world

Princess Esther KAMATARI  stands for a photo during a fashion show in the 1980s.©DR

 

Princess Esther KAMATARI was later on asked to join Royal Bridges, a society exclusively for artists and patrons of arts from imperial, royal, princely and noble houses from around the globe. The society organizes events all across the world, where different royals are able to connect with each other and exchange on whatever they are passionate about.

 

In that way, she says she’s learned to never give up, to be respectful and be kind. “You will always meet someone on a similar path, who can further help you. That’s how I met Henri [Estramant, founding director of Royal Bridges], who connected me with royal houses across the world,” she rejoices.

 

My wish today is for the royal houses around the world to join my foundation, and help me to help others. Because you are Black, you are blue, you are crocodile, it doesn’t matter. We need people to give a hand to help others

 

The princess uses her platform with Royal Bridges to promote the Royal Drummers of Burundi, a UNESCO listed world heritage performance that goes back to the days of the royal court. The latter were mostly performing overtime during regal events including coronations, royal weddings, and funerals of kings until 1966 when Burundi became a republic.

 

Princess Esther KAMATARI is working in Mali, Africa where she plans to combat the use of black plastic bags. She is looking forward to implementing her new charitable foundation “The Foundation of the Princess Kamatari of Burundi” which will deal with the environment.

 

My wish today is for the royal houses around the world to join my foundation, and help me to help others. Because you are Black, you are blue, you are crocodile, it doesn’t matter. We need people to give a hand to help others“, she concludes.

 

https://www.insider.com/how-princess-esther-of-burundi-became-france-first-black-model-2020-6

 

Melchisédeck BOSHIRWA




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