By Jordan Snowden
Pittsburgh-based FashionAFRICANA has teamed up with Paris, France-based retail company MoonLook to present the inaugural FestivalAFRICANA, a series of programming “created to magnify the talents of African creatives and to give audiences an up-close-and-personal look at African culture through fashion and design,” according to a press release.
The first installment of the four-part event series, which will continue into 2021, takes place in a virtual format this weekend, Oct. 17-18 at FestivalAFRICANA.com. The plan is for future FestivalAFRICANA events to be held in person when it’s safe to gather in large groups again.
FestivalAFRICANA is spearheaded by three Black women from Africa and the African diaspora. There is Demeatria Boccella, a global philanthropy professional and founder of Pittsburgh-based FashionAFRICANA; Nelly Wandji, a Paris-based Cameroonian producer, gallerist and branding/retail specialist; and Saran Koly, a London-based Pan-African multi-faceted artist, writer, and creative director.
“My prime goal as a cultural entrepreneur has always been to create a safe place for interactions between nations and continents because when we share our culture and creativity with others, we celebrate our authenticity as storytellers and solidify our singularities,” says Wandji in a press release. “That is exactly my summary for our selection of these creatives. They are part of global conversations, yet they remain authentic and proud of their heritage, traditions, and they revive centuries-old know-hows into the DNA of their brands.”
For the first virtual installment, attendees can expect to see the premiere of There is No Place Like Home, a fashion editorial short film showcasing the best established and emerging Ghanaian designers, hear conversations focused on Black women shaping the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industries, enjoy a live performance by Ghanaian artist and singer, Worlasi, and take part in master classes in African dance, among other things.
“The late playwright, August Wilson, taught us, ‘There is an Africa in each of us that we have to get in touch with to understand our relationship to this society.’ This festival is a celebration of that individual and collective journey, and all African creatives and creativity,” says Boccella. “My journey back to self has been fed by the beauty and vibrancy of the Diaspora, especially the union of fashion and art. I grow a little each day by sharing that union with the world, and I would like to continue connecting to culture through design.”