Southern African Community USA (SACU) hosted its third annual Southern African Reunion weekend from August 28th to August 29th in the Washington D.C. Metro area. The reunion weekend is the largest gathering of Southern Africans in the United States and is SACU’s signature event. Southern African Reunion began in 2013 with the aim of getting Southern Africans and friends of Southern Africa to come together to network, meet, and celebrate Southern African heritage and culture. It it has achieved just that.
The weekend kicked off on with the second annual Southern African Fashion Show on Friday, August 28th at Princess Mhoon Dance Studio in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. The fashion show is a recent addition to the show and this marks the second fashion show that SACU has hosted. The Southern African Fashion show, showcased fashion from the Southern African region and is one of the numerous avenues SACU uses to promote Southern Africa.
It serves to educate people about the region and raise cultural awareness whilst simultaneously strengthening community relations within the southern African community. In a country where African aesthetics is often dominated by fashion from East, West, and North Africa, the show provided a platform for designers from Southern Africa and its Diaspora to represent aesthetics that are uniquely Southern African.
The hosts for the evening were: Tapiwa Kandemiri (Zimbabwe), Wilson Maguwah (Zimbabwe) and Andrew Motaung (South Africa) who entertained the crowd with their friendly banter until the end of the event.
The 8 designers from Southern Africa that were selected to showcase under the theme, “Together as One” showcased their work. In between the fashion show the crowd was entertained by dancing from ZimUniq, a Zimbabwean Dance group; Mphasto Matenda, a Malawian born poet who works in the development field; Leo na Leo Next Generation is a dynamic dance group consisting of a duo from Tanzania and Uganda; and Mai Afrofusion Dance Fitness by Tsiti a Zimbabwean design instructor who danced for the crowd.
The Featured Designers:
The event features 8 Southern African designers in total. The designers from the Southern African Diaspora included: Nashona by Lilian K. Danieli (Tanzania) – a new fashion forward women’s clothing line that specializes in collaborating unique styles that are chic yet with vibrant fabrics from Tanzania; All Flo Couture (Lesotho) – Chief Creative Officer of All Flo Couture, Flory Ramoreboli, has infused the beauty of her homeland into her clothing brand which she describes as revolutionary and non-conformist; Designs by Ariane Fonseca (Angola), was receiving her education in business administration when she started her clothing line for women. She combines religion and fashion to empower women; Gaynor Khan & Margaret Perakis (South Africa) – a graduate of North West School of Design in Klerksdorp, Khan is a talented designer who was awarded the schools coveted ‘Best Designer of the Year’ prize. She was assisted by Margaret Perakis, a South African born school teacher who began making clothes at a young child in exile in Lesotho; VuVu Stone Collection (Zambia) – a brand founded in 2007 by Betty Phiri Chibwe & Oliver Chibwe. They wanted to create a fashion brand that provided the unique touch of exquisite, elegant couture fashion with a touch of Africa; AlmazAfrika (Zimbabwe) – a brand by Almaz Mahati that grew out of the realization that African print is a statement of our heritage and culture; Vituz Place by Vitu Ngwira (Malawi) – Ngwira is a self-taught designer who was inspired to start designing accessories due to her love for vintage, classic and ethnic accessories.
One designer came directly from Southern African this year. Izaura by Mosothi Lesolle was present to represent Botswana. Izaura is a label from a well celebrated fashion designer, stylist, publicist and creative thinker with a vast experience in fashion in Botswana and the rest of Africa. Although based in Botswana, Lesolle is emerging on the international scene and this was his first show in the U.S. His dramatic fashions led him to receive a standing ovation from the audience who fell in love with his bold
cutting edge style. The spouse to the Ambassador to Botswana, Mrs Changu Newman, provided him flowers in appreciation for
Other dignitaries in attendance at the event where official representatives from the countries of Zimbabwe, South Africa,
Namibia. Jane Nankwenya, the Deputy Chief of Mission from Malawi and Ms Prudencia da Silva Embaixateix, spouse to the
Ambassador of Angola were also in attendance. Members of the African Affairs Advisor Group who represent Africa in
Montgomery County, Maryland were also present.The event also had a host of vendors from Southern Africa who sold fashion related items during and after the show. An after party followed the event with Southern African music being played by the memorable DJ Samp Deap.
The festivities continued the next day with a family picnic held at Alpha Ridge Park in Mariottsville, Maryland. The picnic was a
full day of fun for the entire family, with games planned for the children and Southern African music playing in to the night.
The picnic featured a soccer tournament which saw four teams from Southern African countries compete. This included Teams
from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola and SANA (a joint Namibia South Africa team) playing for this year’s championship
trophy. The final game which was played between Malawi and Angola saw Malawi emerge to be declared the Southern African
Champions for the third year in a row.
Overall it was a successful weekend with Southern Africans attending from the metropolitan area and other states. It was also an opportunity where Africans from the rest of Africa as well as Americans were able to experience Southern African culture and a little Southern African hospitality. SACU look forward to planning our 4th annual reunion weekend next year.
See our program for the evening: Fashion Show Program SACU 2015