An African-themed fashion show and banquet was held Friday as the culminating event in the African Student Organization’s (ASO) Africa Week. While the program began an hour late and was hampered by constant pauses and general confusion during performances, ASO members and the audience were pleased with the show.
‘With every production there’s going to be mistakes,’ said Tiffany Thomas, a media management senior and fashion model in the show. ‘There have been a few boo-boos, but we think it went well.’
The theme of Africa week and the fashion show, ‘Bridging the Gap,’ was designed to create a feeling of unity among Africans around the world, from those living in the urban United States to those in rural Africa.
‘The African diaspora is spread out all over the world,’ said Naomi Alabi, a communication studies junior and ASO’s fashion show coordinator. ‘Whether it’s in India, to Africa itself, to the Americas. We’re trying to bridge the gap that exists between us as a people. The point is to show, through fashion, how we are all interconnected.’
The show was performed almost entirely by students, many of which were amateurs before receiving training for the event from Darrerl Jordan, a biotechnology junior and the show’s dance coordinator.
‘On a lot of campuses, a lot of students are divided. You know, people have their own style. But here, we’re all friends, and we collaborated to have a fashion show with African culture, urban and hip-hop,’ said Jordan, who also performed in the show as a fashion model.
Retired bishop Edward Mackenzie, the keynote speaker, kicked off the event by relating personal stories of struggle in his hometown of Cape Town, South Africa.
‘I recall April 27, 1994, I was able to stand in the queue and cast my vote for the president of my choice,’ said Mackenzie. ‘I was casting a vote no just for an individual, but for my own humanity.’
He went on to describe his conception of the heart and soul of Africa.
‘Africa is not a litany of woes, Africa is people’hellip; no one in Africa is independent, everyone in Africa is interdependent. We never speak in the singular. We speak in the plural,’ said Mackenzie.
Mackenzie also remarked that if someone had told him 20 years ago he would one day be able to vote in South Africa, and that one day a black man would be elected the president of the United States, he would think they were ‘whistling in the dark.’
Brittany Lewis, a psychology senior, said she decided to perform because she is about to graduate and wants to be more involved before she leaves CSUN. Like many of the students involved in the program, she was not an ASO member, but simply wished to be a part of the show, which is open to all CSUN students for participation.
‘This is my first time doing any kind of modeling,’ said Lewis. ‘It’s a really great experience. I really enjoying it and I’m so excited about it. We’re just going to have some good fun, basically.’
Dr. Tom Spencer-Walters, department chair for Pan-African Studies, described the event as a ‘big draw’ for CSUN students.
‘It’s just a way to show a different dimension of the continent of Africa through the clothing,’ said Walters. ‘The colors are very loud colors, and those loud colors are meant to’hellip; accentuate the love of life and the energy [Africa] exudes.’
Some of the dance groups scheduled to perform during the four-hour program included CSUN’s Black Reign and the UCLA hip-hop group.