ASA stomps out stereotypes with style

The “I Wear Africa” fashion show concluded Africa Week with old and new African fashions.
Junior Christine Munyikwa works the catwalk for "I Wear Africa" on Friday at Mark Twain Ballroom. The event displayed designer Kiarah Moore's line of clothing as well as addressing the stereotypes attached to typical African attire.

For some, the words “African fashion” might conjure images of loincloths or turbans.

The African Student Association aimed to dispel these stereotypes through the “I Wear Africa” fashion show Friday.

The show was held in Mark Twain Ballroom at Memorial Union. A red carpet lined the floor and flags representing the countries of Africa circled the room.

The “I Wear Africa” fashion show was one of the final events in “Africa Week,” a celebration of African culture, held by ASA.

Models strutted to the thumping beats of African music. The show had two parts: the first included traditional African clothing such as caftans, dresses and scarves worn around the head. The second part was the modern African clothing portion, which included jeggings, draped scarves and t-shirts.

ASA Vice President Yohana Ghirmazion said the event intended to disprove stereotypes of Africans and their attire.

“The common perception of Africans and their clothing is that people wear loincloths and sheets, that this is how we are and this is what we wear, which is a wrong misperception,” Ghirmazion said.

Host Chiamaka Oji asked the crowed what they thought a typical African wore. To highlight common misconceptions, the ASA opened the show with men and women in loincloths, who shouted as if they were a part of an African tribe.

Oji wore a well-fitting, black dress with a wrap around her head, but she said this was not her original outfit choice.

“I had no Nigerian clothes with me, so I couldn’t showcase the different kinds of fabrics normal Africans wear,” Oji said. “But I liked what I had on because of the wrap that showed my culture.”

The fashion show gave ASA more exposure and was a great ending to Africa Week, Grimazion said.

Graduate student Juanita Kwarteng said she enjoyed how the show addressed preconceived notions about African culture.

“I am proud that the ASA worked so hard to produce such a good show,” Kwarteng said.” “I loved the music, the clothing and the way they challenged myths of African culture through the overall presentation of the show.”

Grimazion said it was difficult to choose her favorite piece of clothing in the show, because she loved them all.

“There was so much to choose from — some pieces were created by us, but the traditional (clothes) were things we already owned,” Grimazion said.

Oji said she was simply ecstatic to see people – African and Non-African – coming out to support ASA and the event.

“Just to see people come out to support us was great, because it showed us that our group is progressing,” Oji said.

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