xml:space="preserve">
Boniface Sakala, of Zambia, holds up a banner celebrating his country during a presentation on Zambia's soccer victory in the African Cup of Nations during the second annual Celebrating Africa event at McDaniel College in Westminster Monday night.
Boniface Sakala, of Zambia, holds up a banner celebrating his country during a presentation on Zambia's soccer victory in the African Cup of Nations during the second annual Celebrating Africa event at McDaniel College in Westminster Monday night. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTOs , Carroll County Times)

People dressed in traditional African garb created a sea of vibrant colors and designs as they strutted down the runway during a fashion show. Each individual paused to allow viewers the opportunity to capture the details of the custom pieces.

The models were made up primarily of college students in an effort to showcase African fashion at McDaniel College's Second Annual Celebrating Africa event in the Decker Center Forum Monday night.

Advertisement

In addition to the clothing display, the event featured African dance, trivia, poems, dinner and certain individual country presentations. Students also discussed misconceptions about African culture.

Debora Johnson-Ross, associate dean of academic affairs at the college, said the event is meant to highlight the culture of those who originate from a country in Africa, which happens to be several students and staff members.

"We literally have students from all over the continent," she said. "I just think it's important for us to recognize the diversity of our students."

Celebrate Africa is meant to honor Black History Month this year, while its intention last year was to celebrate the independence of 27 African countries, Johnson-Ross said. All of the tables contained papers highlighting little-known African facts and little-known African-American facts.

Kwei Maduot-Parek, president of the Sophisticated Ladies club on campus, said goals of the celebration this year were to dispel certain fallacies people have about the continent and make people feel like they were visiting Africa. The club's mission is to promote unity, diversity, service and academic achievement among college students and broaden their horizons in an effort to make them more sophisticated.

Attendees saw a presentation about what people believe occurs in Africa and what really occurs. Some things addressed were that people in Africa do not use elephants as transportation, but instead mostly vehicles, and don't usually live in huts, but instead modern houses.

"We want to make sure that we are educating people," she said.

Those who don't have friends who are from an African country or who haven't been to the continent may not understand what it's really like, Maduot-Parek said.

McDaniel students were interviewed for the presentation, and many said in a video that Africa conjured thoughts of jungles and safaris.

Senior Rita Kabaso, secretary of Sophisticated Ladies, said that she hopes people now realize that Africa is not all about safaris. The event was meant to give people another perspective of the continent.

Kabaso, who is from Zambia, said she received positive feedback about the event immediately at its end Monday.

"It just really tells you how people are open to new ideas," she said.

Sophomore Mileyni Alvarenga said she was guilty of believing some of the stereotypes and learned so much about Africa at the celebration.

"I loved the dinner, I loved the fashion show," she said. "It was amazing."

Advertisement

Maduot-Parek, who is from Sudan, said it's important for those from Africa to celebrate their heritage and for others to learn more about African culture. The club invited members of the college and the community to attend the event, and Maduot-Parek's nieces and nephews joined her on the runway Monday.

"I hope that they walked away with an experience that they definitely enjoyed and can share the experience with someone who wasn't there," she said.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement