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Dec 2016
She has dressed Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o and Uganda's chess Woman Candidate Master Phiona Mutesi for the premiere of 'Queen of Katwe'. She has also designed several Miss Uganda and Miss Tourism contestants among others.

Yet Brenda Niwagaba Maraka, who is undoubtedly among Uganda's top fashion designers, describes herself as "just a simple person who loves work and fashion". She is also quick to recognise people who have inspired her, including renowned fashion designer and artist Stella Atal and Xenson Samson Ssenkaaba

In January 2007, Maraka officially launched 'Brendamaraka' as a fashion label.

"I work to represent Uganda as a tropical country through fashion and also extend Kampala's position as a fashion hub," said Maraka.

For the love of developing and inspiring others through her fashion skills, Maraka grooms two talented and interested students in fashion and design every year.

Come next year January, Maraka is set to showcase at her own fashion show marking ten years in the industry.

It will be the highest point for a woman who from way back, as a young girl, has loved being artistic. It was no surprise that she concentrated on art in school and one of her fondest memories as a student is designing costumes for school plays and beauty pageants.

"That confirmed my goal in life of creating designs through my own fashion label," she says, "I love to create new things."

At 13 years old, after completing primary education, Maraka proceeded to Namasagali College in Kamuli for O-level and these to her were years of fun and building character. She then left to a new environment of only girls at Trinity College Nabbingo for A-level and by the time she left she had forged a career path.

"It was a totally different and harder experience. However, by the time I completed Form six, I knew what I was meant to be a fashion designer courtesy of the school's arrangement on career guidance," says Maraka.

She was offered several opportunities including one on government sponsorship at Makerere University all of which were meant to grow her fashion career but Maraka settled for a fashion design program at the London Academy of Design and dress making where she completed in 2005.

Maraka chose exposure to international fashion trends at the London school at a cost rather than free education in Uganda. She rates it as a priceless decision that has paid off.

In 2014 as part of her internship program, Maraka made a maiden runaway showcase during the Uganda International Fashion Week and since then she has not looked back. She has participated in a number of fashion events both in Uganda and UK.

In comparing London's fashion industry to Uganda, Maraka says London has already established big brands and it is close to impossible for anyone starting out.

"The industry is faster, bigger and people produce too many new collections every year as the market demands," she says.

By contrast, she says, Uganda offers limitless opportunities are limitless or, in her words, "There is room to define who you are".

Maraka was born in Soroti-Teso, Eastern Uganda in 1981. She was raised by a single mother Elizabeth Maraka who worked long at the Soroti Flying School and she says is her great inspiration. She used to make dresses for her and remains her stylist to date. Maraka grew up as an only child because her twin siblings died. It is the reason she is also called Akello, meaning 'follower of twins'.

Liteside

Any three things we don't know about you?

I am an only child of my mother. I really love sports to the extent that I train for kickboxing. I had a dream of representing Uganda for RIO 2016 though it didn't come to pass. When I am confident enough to have my face punched, I will get to the ring.

I love to travel and for this year, I chose to visit every part of Uganda that I had never visited. One of them was Kidepo and it was a breathtaking experience where I realised I had made it. I also visited the pyramids in Cairo.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Doing what you love. If you think you can regret doing it, then it's not worth doing. Even when you fail to achieve at something you loved doing, you gain satisfaction.

What is your greatest fear?

I have a phobia for rodents. I can face anything in life but not them.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I am not a confrontational person yet sometimes I wish I could be one to give my all. It makes people walk all over me.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

I just don't like dishonest people. I appreciate honesty.

Which living person do you most admire?

My Mother, Elizabeth Maraka; she taught me to be a strong person, believe in myself and to see good in people. I am privileged to live with her even as an adult.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Everything about improving my fashion and design career.

What is the greatest thing you have ever done?

I still have to do it and I am planning on how to achieve it.

What is your current state of mind?

I am at peace and love my life.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

That whole saying of 'Government should help us' or 'government has not done much' just breaks my heart. How I wish the same people would ask themselves what they have done for government as well. Anyone can start small and grow big.

What does being powerful mean to you?

Being able to make a difference in someone's life or inspire someone. It can also mean being well connected in society.

On what occasion do you lie?

I like to be real.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

When I was young I was chubby and I didn't like it but I have since found peace in myself.

Which living person do you most despise?

Even when I see the worst in a person, I don't destroy bridges because I might need them tomorrow.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Having a plan or purpose in life.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Having a purpose in life.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I like saying 'you know' and 'yeah'.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

I guess it is my Mum but there are so many other people I love.

When and where were you happiest?

There is no one single moment because there are so many things I do that bring happiness to me. Finishing School in 2006 was a happy moment but also each time I remember when I had my first fashion show during my internship in 2004, I am fulfilled.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I love music and may be one day I hope I will drop an album. I used to play a violin and hope that one day I will do it once more.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I am just in love with myself.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I am still a work in progress; I haven't yet reached there.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

As me and fix everything I didn't do from as far as a child.

Where would you most like to live?

Uganda but particularly in Karamoja and Kidepo; the landscape and weather are amazing. It can rain so heavily and dry up so fast.

What is your most treasured possession?

I never got to see my grandfather but I was given a crucifix from his things. It has that sentimental value and makes me relate with him. But even when everything is taken away from me, I can start afresh and build-up.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Suffering from cancer; I visited Mulago Cancer ward and witnessed people suffer in too much pain. Things like broken heart can be amended but not cancer.

What is your favorite occupation?

I always wanted to be a fashion designer.

What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty

Who are your favorite writers?

I am not a fan of any particular person but I love to read inspirational pieces.

Who is your hero of fiction?

I like Superman and how he comes in to rescue at the right time. I wish there were true supermen.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I may model myself to Mother Theresa but I can't come even an inch to who she was and what she did.

What is your greatest regret?

I don't regret anything.

How would you like to die?

I want to die of old age on my bed with my grand children all looking and smiling at me.

What is your motto?

Always make sure you are climbing the right hill.Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/backless-formal-dresses | http://www.marieaustralia.com/long-formal-dresses
judy smith
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judy smith
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