The GW African Student Association spotlighted authentic African food and fashion in their 10th annual “Taste of Africa” event Saturday night.
The annual cultural celebration featured three designers in a fashion show, an internationally-known singer as the keynote speaker and traditional African food. The event drew about 180 students to the Grand Ballroom of the Marvin Center.
African Student Association President Tomi Sodimu opened the event with a welcome speech. Sodimu spoke about the important role the student organization and her culture has played in her college life.
“This is a really good opportunity for us to use this event to showcase what it means to be African,” Sodimu said.
After the welcome speech, there was a short video presentation on “Africa into the Future”, which was also the theme for the event. The video highlighted the developments that the continent of Africa has been undergoing, particularly focusing on entrepreneurship, fashion and women’s empowerment in the country.
The event’s keynote speaker was Anna Mwalagho, an internationally recognized actress, comedian, poet, African dancer, singer and songwriter. Mwalagho spoke about how she takes pride in being African and showcasing her culture.
Mwalagho said that people with African heritage, who have moved away from the country, have a responsibility to “give back to Africa” by celebrating African culture.
Sodimu said the group wanted to bring a big name to campus this year and succeeded when Mwalagho agreed to speak.
“This year it was a little more extravagant,” she said. “I was really excited about the keynote because she is such an incredible woman and she is internationally known. Getting her was kind of amazing for us.”
The fashion show showcased three fashion brands, including a clothing line called “Baby Black” created by Zinhle Essamuah, a graduate student in the School of Media and Public Affairs, Maryland-based QVINGS and a mother-daughter team of clothing designers called The PINK Outlet, who are also based in Maryland.
The fashion show included more models this year than they have in the past and featured casual styles, Sodimu said.
“We tried to go with more modern, streetwear fashion just to show that African fashion is very multi-dimensional and we are really expressing ourselves beyond the traditional,” Sodimu said.
Sodimu added that the group tried to incorporate cultural elements from all regions of Africa into the festivities this year. She said the organization highlighted more than just West Africa, which makes up a “very large base” of their membership, through the food at the event like peri peri chicken and plantain chips – dishes that come from other regions of the country.
“It’s a celebration of our culture and a celebration of our diversity,” Sodimu said.