On Saturday, Binghamton University’s African Student Organization (ASO) offered a glimpse of African culture with “Threads of the Motherland: Garden of Divinity.” The annual fashion show included a performance and a variety of interactive moments with the host.
The fashion show emphasized a theme of divinity by dedicating each scene to an African god or goddess that lives in the Garden of Divinity, highlighting African music, humor and spirituality.
Host Young Prince, a comedian and emcee, also made sure to include non-African attendees by calling for short dance breaks throughout the night, where music from various Caribbean islands was played. The show provided a place for African students at BU, such as Abigail Obeng, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry, to see their culture represented.
“I actually feel like I have a place I belong to,” Obeng said.
The event also served as a fundraiser for Iban Ifiok, an organization run by BU alumni that invests in girls in Africa. At the fashion show, Iban Ifiok was presented with an award for positively impacting girls in Africa.
“They have done a lot of things to help women back home in Africa that don’t have sanitary pads or supplies to go to school,” said Nanayaa Amponsah, president of the ASO and a junior double-majoring in Africana studies and women, gender and sexuality studies.
Aside from seeking a community of inclusion and representation, fashion show attendees came out to see the diverse styles that were showcased throughout the night. The pieces ranged from formal wear to casual streetwear, even including a swimsuit line. The seven designers who participated were each assigned to one of the seven “gods” and “goddesses” of the garden. Designer Danielle Christian, ’19, who started DJené Designs, styled her models as a tribute to the god of war, Anhur.
Other models were styled by other black-owned brands, including KD Collections, Jiggy By Nature, Ataria, Omooba Fashions, Aude Swim and Heritage Links.
Amponsah pointed to African royalty as an inspiration for the event, and emphasized the importance of showcasing many different styles of African clothing.
“[We were] able to show the different scenes and genres,” Amponsah said. “I think it was really good. [BU] lacks a lot of culture and we [are] able to showcase that every year. So, I feel like today was a really amazing day.”
Mercedes Yeboah, a member of the ASO and an undeclared freshman, also said she felt the fashion show did a good job of showcasing different types of African cultures. Yeboah, who attends ASO meetings, said she feels that the group allows her to have representation in the BU community.
“[The ASO is] very important to just be a safe space for not just African Americans, but Africans in general, to … be a comfortable, safe space to let the world know about our culture, like our fabric prints and designs,” Yeboah said.