UAS in the USA Club Hosts 3rd Annual “Fresh Off the Boat” African Fashion Show
By: Victoria Ifatusin
About 100 people attended the African Fashion Show at the Springer Concert Hall located in the Center for the Arts at CSI on February 15th at 7:00 PM.
The United African Students in the United States of America club was founded in 2013, by Dr. Kwame, with the hopes “to empower African students to achieve full academic potential and extracurricular activities and elevate self-esteem, qualities needed to succeed,” as mentioned in their current constitution.
The club has made this their objective, even as other members decided to occupy the power as former presidents either graduated or offered the position to such members due to their dedication.
Through various meetings held, the club looks for new ways to “organize and participate in events on campus and with other CUNY colleges, in the city, which promote cultural values,” as stated in their constitution.
Thus, they have been able to come up with the “Fresh Off the Boat” African Fashion Show, which stimulates the African culture through the presentation of clothing, spoken word, musical and dance performances.
This year, current President James Henry, the first Caribbean President to oversee the African club, continued the legacy by presenting the brands of minority students who attend CSI.
“For my future members in the room,” the President said shortly ending his speech. “You don’t have to be African to be a part of the club. Even if you know or think you know everything there is about African culture, we’re willing to teach. But I want everyone to come with an open mind willing to learn.”
Models found themselves scurrying back and forth backstage, as they prepared themselves for the show to start.
The event started off with the hosting of Steven Ojo, a fellow Nigerian who made it clear that he did not attend the college in various jokes.
“Staten Island is not a borough,” Ojo said when describing the strenuous journey he had when coming to CSI. “It is a country. No one knows where it is.”
Thus, the show began.
The lights suddenly dimmed, and the DJ began playing Afrobeats. Displayed before the audience were male and female models who were going to be presenting the brands.
These models were also students of UAS in the USA. A few of these students included Hawa C., Matilda J., Tammy M., Olapeju O., Tyra P., Kera T., Adefolarin J., Michael K., Tosin A., Cyril., Dovench P., Emmanuel A., Chukwurado U., and so on.
Majority of the students have been in the African club since they began studying at CSI. Others recently joined as Freshman or Senior.
The show consisted of the presentation of the works of African people and people of minority groups through spoken word, dance, and music.
For example, Michael K., a model and a student at CSI read poems to the audience that discussed his internal battles with himself and how it has defined him today.
Kera T., another model and student also read her work out loud, but focused on the political situation of today. Her work was directed at the government that is in current power, explaining artistically the need to remove gun violence for the protection of people instead of “building a wall” to protect those who are already at risk.
The poet and student, Wale, also presented his work describing the pride of being African and the need to embrace in it difficult times.
Dances were also included, as students the UAS in the USA club had their own dance group, Afrique Static, that was formed to give viewers a sense of African dances. The woman’s dance group – which consisted of about ten women – started first, and shortly after, the man’s dance group – which consisted of three men – danced shortly after.
As the constitution said, the club is also focused on the collaboration with other CUNY colleges. Thus, Mistik Motion, a dance crew from Hunter College, presented an African dance in a school setting as they were dressed in school uniforms.
Up and coming artists also sang and rapped at the event, such as Emmanuel Mensah, Stephen and Dayg, EP, and Tony Ade.
Although, the musician that took the audience by a storm was Connell, a Caucasian Saxophone performer who played to diverse songs from Trip by Ella Mai to On the Low by Burna Boy. Audience members couldn’t help but get up out of their seat to the front of the stage where he was playing and dance as he played.
Of course, the event majorly consisted of the showcasing of various brands that were owned by fellow students of CSI – most of whom were of African descent or were minorities. Some of these included brands like Oddattire, Stillski Apparel, Reyjaiteh, Tai’s Wardrobe and so on.
TRAP Apparel also was presented by CSI’s student, Ogoegbunem Agbasionwe, a Business major who plans on graduating at the end of the 2019 spring semester.
“Take Risks and Prosper,” said the upcoming entrepreneur. “It’s a message that we’re trying to send out to our peers to continue to learn, grow and get out of their comfort zone.”