Giselle’s checked shirt
“There is increased peace instability and several political upheavals in Congo. It happened that I was part of the opposition party in my country, Congo. So on a particular day when I was in the city coming from a political meeting, the military soldiers who are part of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the current ruling party started following my friend in the streets of Lubumbashi and me.”
“The incident happened when I was with a friend. We increased our walking pace, so by the time I realised that we were far away from them I came up with an idea to purchase shirts in the streets where people sell very cheaper stuff. I advised my friend to change her dressing as well, and I informed her that we would not walk together if she weren’t going to change. We both sneaked on a certain blind corner where I changed my shirt, and I also covered my hair. We did this so that they could not notice us as we looked different. We escaped a dark trap. I purchased the shirt on my own, in the streets of Lubumbashi in the year 2017.
The shirt is essential to me because it saved my life. If it wasn’t for this shirt, I should have been in prison or already dead because when the Congolese authorities catch you after running away from them, they beat you to death or imprison you. When I look at my keepsake, I always have mixed emotions. On the other hand, I thank God for giving me the wisdom to buy the shirt and put it on there and there. On the other hand, I feel like I was in a movie, acting like a real criminal, but I will appreciate my shirt forever above all.
This shirt keeps me connected to my friend I was with when the incident happened. Whenever I put on my shirt, I usually call my friend and remind her of the incident. Recently, my friend was in the same situation, and she did the same tactic of changing the clothes in the streets of Lubumbashi. She later called me to inform me how grateful she was for coming up with the strategy before because it saved her life for the second time. I didn’t buy the shirt at the market or a good clothing shop, but I love it. I left most of my beautiful and expensive clothes in Congo, and I brought along my shirt. When I was packing my bag in a hurry to leave my country, my heart automatically reminded me of the importance of my unique shirt, which is my keepsake.
I keep my shirt in the wardrobe, at a specific corner where I keep my other, exceptional clothes. I wear the keepsake mainly in summer because, in winter, the weather conditions do not allow me to do so.”