The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Africana Fashion Show Shines
Students walk across the stage of Gomes Chapel at the Africana Fashion Show. (Photo provided by Mark Mattos at

On Friday, March 16, the Africana Club hosted their annual Africana Fashion Show in Gomes Chapel. This event involved dancers, singers, spoken word, and the main spectacle, a fashion show. 

To begin, purple, blue and yellow lights moved across the stage at the front of the stage. The overhead lights dimmed, and the room went dark. “When I get older I will be stronger, they’ll call me freedom just like a wavin’ flag,” (from the song “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan) blared from the speakers, as dozens of students ran out, holding the flags of their countries over their heads. The students gathered on the stage of Gomes Chapel and swayed back and forth, their flags moving with them

The three emcees, Bryce Ansah ‘24, Viuro Nkemngong ‘24, and Uche Anyanwu ‘25 walked out, laughing and making jokes to the audience, with one of them in a colorful, patterned outfit, telling the other two in suits, “please tell me you have something else to wear?” 

The three ran offstage, and then eight more students walked down the aisle in fashionable get-ups ranging from sparkly orange dresses, to long teal garments. This group included the staff of the Africana Club including Co-Presidents Aisatou Barry ‘24 and Salma Ali ‘24, Vice President Uche Anyanwu ‘25, Event Coordinators Djibril Diaw ‘27, Mfon Diduff ‘24, Community Liaison Chidera Kalu-Uka ‘27, Secretary Sophia Ibeh ‘25 and Social Media Coordinator Angel Guitcha ‘27. 

The group began with a few remarks about the club and the performances that were to come. Then, they segued into a description of the theme of the show: Kelele. 

“In many African cultures being loud is not merely about making noise: it’s about expressing joy and celebrating life,” Ali explained. Ansah then shared that the word for loud in Swahili is “Kelele,” a term that later became a major motif of the rest of the show. 

“When I say Kelele, you guys gotta scream,” Ansah yelled out. 

The first performance involved a group of students performing a traditional South African dance called Gumboot. They wore black outfits with yellow sashes, and formed a semicircle around one person who danced in the middle. Each dancer switched off and another person would enter the circle. The audience clapped to the beat and cheered. The energy from the crowd was truly unmatched. 

Next up, Ahmednoor Hassan ‘27 performed some spoken word poetry. He spoke about Somalia saying, “they lost their voice screaming, but the world doesn’t care.” The passion and strength in his voice held the audience with each word. “Don’t ever let it get too quiet, ‘cause that’s when it gets loud!” The audience cheered at this line in particular.

Adding to the variety of performances, students Faith Nwando ‘24 and Daquan Johnson ‘27 stood together, each holding a microphone. They began to sing “Running (to you)” by Chike: “and if you ever need saving, I will be running to you. Running, running, running to you,” they harmonized. Their voices rang out through the chapel, and blended together to produce a joyful song. 

Continuing the music theme, Anyanwu and Sebenele Lukhele ‘26 began to dance to an Amapiano song. If you haven’t heard of Amapiano, their song, “Water” by South African singer Tyla, has grown in popularity on TikTok. The song that they danced to was a different Amapiano song, but also had a great beat.

Following this dance, Zain Erakky ‘26 performed another spoken word piece, explaining the meaning of “Kelele” in Egyptian culture. To him, Kelele represented the cooking culture that is important to Egyptian families. “Without any cookbook we begin. We go with our feelings,” he explained. He alluded to Kelele even more, adding “the flavors as loud as our voices.” He continued to talk about the smell and taste of Egyptian spices in the kitchen, transporting the audience into his kitchen with each new detail. 

Students dance with flags on the stage of Gomes Chapel at the Africana Fashion Show. (Photo provided by Mark Mattos at

Next up was a Somali dance piece. Students in red and black headpieces and dresses danced to a series of songs. Green and red lights shone on them, and new dancers cycled out from the wings to join them.

The next act started with a hint of confusion, as the lights suddenly dimmed. The audience looked around and then professional rapper and singer Chrizi Jamer danced down the aisle, belting out his song “One in a Million.” The audience clapped along to his performance. “Put your phones up. Shine those flashlights. Left right, left right,” he instructed the audience. The phone lights, the professional photographer capturing Jamer, and the thrill of the crowd, gave the effect of a real concert. “Sing it after me”, Jamer shouted, “you got my temperature rising!” “You got my temperature rising,” the audience sang back. After a few songs, Jamer danced his way out, thanking the audience for letting him live his dream by giving him a space to sing. 

After Jamer’s performance came the main event: the fashion show. A plethora of songs filled the room as students strutted down the aisle in their garments. Most students did a small dance in their outfit, before walking off the stage. The audience cheered the loudest for the fashion show, some people even standing to get a better view.

People called out the names of their friends as they posed and smiled. Some people walked out individually while others strutted in pairs. There were people in sparkly blue dresses and gold jewelry and one girl in a pink and brown jacket that matched her pink and brown shirt. This girl swung her jacket over her shoulders and grinned at the audience. The next girl wore all pink and turned her pink jacket into a headscarf. Some students used props, like mirrors and baskets. Closing the show was a West African dance number. People in all black outfits, wearing white masks, danced in sync with one another. A lot of people then came out to join them, including the emcees. The dancing was infectious, even inspiring some spectators to join in. 

When the show ended the audience erupted in cheers. The performers posed for photos and the attendees danced their way out of the chapel.

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