By Ntumba Mukendi
As a lover of African fashion culture and history, it was perhaps only natural that I found myself running into the creative talents of 54 Kingdoms -an apparel and accessory company that brings the Pan-African creative, history and culture to the doorstep of global fashion. I have to say, what really caught my attention was the “Score For Unity” t-shirt, which simply stresses the need for African countries to unite as one. The video above says it all.
About Storytellers in Fashion
Launched in 2012, Storytellers in Fashion (STF) brings to light the creative experience and inspiration behind various 54 Kingdoms designs. Accompanied by a live band providing background music, STF provides a multi-sensory storytelling experience to audiences, in addition to collaborative performances from emerging artists with a style complimentary to STF’s vision.
54 Kingdoms’ recent extraordinary annual Community Outreach Initiatives (COI) event took place December 20, 2014. I hope you were there, if not, be sure to catch them next year. Check out the details of that evening below:
54 Kingdoms and Friends Rock Storytellers in Fashion 2014
December 20, 2014 – In a highly anticipated lead up to the third annual Storytellers in Fashion showcase last year, 54 Kingdoms and friends once again brought the Pan-African community together in grand style at Farafina café and lounge. Hosted by Fatima Sesay of SaharaTV, the event began on a spirited note with powerful poetry performance by Frank E. Brady. Brady’s high vocal projection, animation and poetic consciousness captured the audience’s attention and set the tone for songwriter and pop-artist, Chris Akinyemi.
Performing a few of his hit records, Chris Akinyemi and band serenaded the crowd with both pop and soulful classics. “This summer, the song I’m about to play will be the song for every African wedding” referring to the first song he performed for the night, titled ‘Aya Mi’. After Chris’ performance, the audience prepared to hear from visual artist, ” Alfajo Jallow. Until then, Alfajo was finishing his special painting dedicated to the occasion. A multi-colored painting with the African continent split into different pieces, he explained “the painting shows that Africa in its current state is not unified, and until we start discussing our unity, we will not achieve this dream”. The painting auctioned for $400, of which 30% was donated to 54 Kingdoms to support its Community Outreach Initiatives.
The evening’s program proceeded with Fatima inviting 54 Kingdoms’ Nana Poku (CEO) and Kwaku Awuah (President) to take the stage. The lively Ghanaian duo, started off their set in typical traditional fashion by pouring libation to pay homage to the higher spirits and ancestors. Nana recited the process in his native ‘Twi’ dialect, while Kwaku provided English translation to the audience’s delight. Already in their zone, the duo transitioned into a ‘jamming session’. “We listen to music a lot, we draw inspiration and stories from music, and the jamming session is an opportunity to share some of these inspiring artists with you” – Kwaku Awuah told the captivated audience. The audience was treated to a mix of songs from artists like Ebo Taylor, Angélique Kidjo, Freddie Meiway, Nas and Damian Marley. The very stimulated audience were simply left begging for more. But all good things must come to an end and Nana Poku and Kwaku Awuah concluded their session by sharing with the audience the inspiration behind their company’s work Score For Unity (SFU) collection.
The night concluded with recognition of New York City-based photographer, Roy Anthony Morrison, who 54 Kingdoms described as being a great supporter of their movement for over 4 years. Congolese-born songwriter and songstress, Rafiya took the stage afterwards, delivering special performances including the Score For Unity (SFU) theme song, Team Africa.
Storytellers in Fashion 2014 event was sponsored by Vita Coco, Applause Africa, African Youth Excellence (AYE), Council for Young African Leaders (CYAL), Broken Limits, Primo Supremo, Farafina Café and Lounge, Lux Shea Organics, Amariya’s Kitchen and 413 Management.
Ticket sales from every Storytellers in Fashion event goes to support 54 Kingdoms’ COI, which has benefited non-profit partners such as African Youth Excellence (AYE) and African Youth Network (AYONET). Read more about the company’s COI here.