Faith Earley / @shotbyfaith

Students strut down the runway during Afrik! to celebrate Pan-Africanism through fashion.

March 6, 2020

Cast Call to CatWalk, Afrik! Celebrates Pan-Africanism

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Duffield Hall buzzed with excitement as students strutted down the catwalk in a kaleidoscope of fashions and colors, showcasing the work of designers from across the world for the 15th Annual Afrik! Fashion Show last Saturday night.

The Pan African Student Association, formerly known as The Coalition of Pan-African Scholars, planned the show to celebrate Pan-Africanism — the unity of different African cultures — through fashion, music, dance, poetry and performance.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to showcase Pan-African design and culture in a very fun, light hearted way,” Barbara Omarah ’20, PASA e-board member, told The Sun.

Co-sponsored by ALANA, CUTonight, ISU, SAFC and Gender Justice Advocacy Coalition, Deborah Yeboah ’22, president of PASA, and her e-board called out to the Cornell community to cast their models and performers at the beginning of the semester.

For some students, donning the show’s unique garments was a way to engage their passion for fashion in a meaningful and fun way.

“I always like getting dressed and styling myself. One day I hope that one day I can be involved in the modeling side of fashion, so that’s why I took the opportunity to be in Afrik,” Olumachi Onyekwere ’21 said during Afrik! rehearsals, the Friday night before the show.

“They’ve been very encouraging in making sure that we are ourselves, that we’re comfortable and giving a lot of positive and constructive feedback,” Onyekwere continued.

This year, PASA reached out to designers from a myriad of backgrounds and fashion disciplines to showcase a diverse set of styles, ranging from high professional to streetwear. Given they had two less months than usual to organize the event, the club began planning last semester, reaching out to designers based in New York, Florida, Nigeria and Mali during winter break.

“My favorite designer was the modest designer because we wanted to express something different and show off more cultures,” Yeboah said, referring to TrèsBellePrints, a brand located in New York City that designs modest clothing “created without limitations, by women for all women,” according to its Instagram.

The hosts of the show, Jordan Fason ’20 and Lassan Bagayoko ’22, brought a bright energy to the event, facilitating smooth transitions between the performances and catwalks with humor and levity.

“I thought it would be a really exciting opportunity. It’s my last year. I wanted to go out with a bang, so I said yes,” said Jordan Fason ’20, recalling the moment when she was asked to host the show by one of the e-board members of PASA.

Performers from a myriad of organizations — African Dance Repertoire, CCSADE, Sabor Latino Dance Ensemble — and students, including Tredarin Crumbley ’20, Janequa Mason ’22, William Nnuro ’21 and Lamin Johnson ’20 took the stage to showcase their talent in acts ranging from drum playing to rapping.

“We wanted to express to people that we are Pan-Africanism and we do have Afro-Latinos being supported and expressed in our community and in our show,” Yeboah said, explaining that this year’s show branched out to include a wider breadth of cultures.

In addition to the performances, student and business owner of her own hair braiding services, Tyler Sturdivant ’21 showcased her intricate hair designs with jeweled cornrows and braids formed into the shape of a bird cage placed carefully on top of her model’s head.

“My favorite thing was definitely Tyler’s hair show,” Yeboah said. “It’s so different, no one was expecting that.”