The African Students’ Union (ASU) Annual Fashion show took place at the Edge Cafe on Saturday, November 10. “Afrika Moja, Afrika Yetu” (Swahili for One Africa, Our Africa) was the title of this year’s fashion show, which marks its fifth consecutive year. The fashion show was hosted by senior Régine Cooper (RéRé) alongside DJ Onyx. Opening acts included senior Sydney Schultz from Colgate Stand Up and first-year Grace Darko, who performed renditions of the songs “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” and later on “Malaika (my angel),” a Tanzanian song translated into Twi.
Queen Irie Designs by Kerra Hunter, Assistant Dean and Director of International Student Services at Colgate, is mainly a children’s clothing line and was the first collection to walk the runway. The concept behind this line was creating clothes for kids to encourage them to express themselves and their culture.
Next, Fiona Mac Designs’s bag and purse line created by senior Fiona Adjei Boateng took the runway. Her purpose was to represent Ghana in the states and at Colgate by educating consumers about the cultural significance of her designs and making Afrocentric items accessible and useful to our everyday lives.
“For every bag I make, the fabric I use is shipped directly from Ghana. Not only is the fabric of higher quality, but I need that kind of connection to the original source. This helps me stay true to my roots because I am actually helping small businesses back home. Also, for every design I make, I try to explain the meaning of the fabrics to anybody who is interested because there is a lot of symbolism in them that people overlook. They are more than just another pretty design,” Boateng said.
After a brief intermission, which featured a spoken word poetry presentation by senior D’Andre Stamper (Stamp), Obioma Fashion by Emeka Anyadiegwu was showcased. This Nigerian clothing line mixes traditional African Ankara prints and modern western silhouettes to create fresh, original designs and fashion pieces. The audience was then engaged in a mini Africa trivia competition and a performance by the on-campus Afro-Beats dance group.
Kwetu Fashion Designs by Missy Temeke, a notable fashion designer, was the final collection presented. The goal of Kwetu Fashion Designs is to create clothing that features nuances of the designer’s African heritage while demonstrating a distinct design aesthetic, love of high fashion and bold colors.
An interview with ASU President senior Tracy Milyango provided perspective to the meaning of the show, and what it represents for ASU and its future.
“This entire month has been Africa appreciation month and one of the main things we have been exploring is what Africa and Pan Africanism means to us and what they could possibly mean to other people. Because we were looking at these themes of what one Africa looks like within the continent and the diaspora we decided to go with the Afrika Moja, Afrika Yetu (One Africa, Our Africa) theme. Especially since the student body on campus is not super diverse in terms of African identities, having this theme connects even those who are not directly from the continent so that we can all share the same identity even if it’s for one night,” Milyango said. “It is really nice to see people I know and I don’t know walking together sharing that one identity.”
The show was organized with the support of ASU alumni, two of whom visited Colgate to help prepare. Milyango hopes a larger budget and venue, more designers and support from various offices, clubs and cultural organizations on campus will make future fashion shows even more diverse and impressive. She also hopes to eventually bring in a designer from the continent.
“My biggest take away from the fashion show is that they are portraying the diversity of unity of cultures in Africa, but it also requires an intense amount of effort and time that most of these students don’t have but they give anyway,” junior Rupika Chakraverti said.
ASU fashion show model and senior Ilias Stitou explained why he feels this event is important.
“I’m actually from Morocco, a country in North Africa. This show plays a huge role in bringing us all together to represent, celebrate and show the importance of our culture. It demonstrates that Africa is beyond what everyone misconstrues it to be,” Stitou said.
Contact Angie Diaz at [email protected]