On Friday, February 20, a group of students transformed the Mathey common room into a catwalk for Sankofa, Princeton’s 2nd annual African fashion show that highlights African clothing and many of Princeton’s performing arts groups, such as Black Arts Company: Dance, Ellipses, Hibir, Umqombothi, and more. Around 350 students attended to see their peers show off clothing tailored by various professional designers. Philomina Kane (’17), who co-hosted the event, emphasized that the event planners aimed to highlight the beautiful parts of Africa and its diverse cultures. “Many times when people think about Africa, they think of it as a desolate land, filled with corruption and war, but people fail to recognize there’s more to it in our culture, and we wanted to express that through clothing and models.” Six students came up with the idea for Sankofa in the fall semester of 2013: Achille Tenkiang (’17), Tejumade Adewole (’15), Jessica Kariisa (’16), Adaure Nwaba (’16), Imani Oliver (’14) and Zenaida Enchill (’16). People who attended the first fashion show were so impressed by its quality that the second Sankofa drew exponentially higher numbers for auditions, according to Kane.
In Twi, one of the most widely used languages in Ghana, Sankofa loosely translates to “Go back and get it again.” According to Kane, the word signals the importance of history and connecting with roots. “It means, ‘Go back and get whatever you didn’t get last time … Don’t leave your past behind.”