Ohio State’s African Youth League will host its annual African Night celebration on Saturday. This event will draw thousands of visitors from across the state and nation, and showcase music, dance and fashion that represent Africa and other countries across the African Diaspora.
Each year, the celebration includes a fashion show where students model both traditional and modern African clothes from designers that draw inspiration from traditional styles.
All models in the show are Ohio State students. While many of them are African, some are African-American and use the fashion show as a way to embrace their distant African heritage.
“We wanted to give those who do not have direct ties to Africa a chance to experience African culture through the clothes,” said Akwi Anyangwe, vice president of AYL and third-year in biological engineering. “That’s why we incorporated the designers, so that people who don’t own African clothes feel closer to home in some way.
The majority of designers featured in the show are from the Columbus area, with a few from states such as New Jersey and Texas. Twelve of the 14 designers will have their clothing available to buy at the event. The other clothes that will be showcased belong to students.
A new addition to this year’s festivities are modeling clinics that participating models are required to attend before walking in the show, and these clinics are run by students who have previous modeling experience.
“We’re having modeling clinics to make it a little more professional and to give people more confidence when walking down that runway,” said Rosevine Azap, a fourth-year in microbiology and president of AYL.
However, none of the students running these clinics are African. This gives another opportunity for non-African, black students to connect to their roots.
“It’s beautiful to see black people from all over, and from different backgrounds work together just for Africa,” Anyangwe said.
The African Night fashion show will take place during the African Night Celebration on Saturday in the Archie M. Griffin Ballroom in the Ohio Union. The red carpet starts at 6 p.m. and the show will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free.