Writing this review in my room at 1:21am on Sunday morning, I am still in shock. The reoccurring thought that keeps racing through my head is just an overwhelming “WOW”. I am not even completely confident what I just witnessed was real but I can whole heartedly say this was one of my best nights in St Andrews.
Going into Ubuntu—I had no expectations. I knew it was an African Fashion show with elements of dance, but that was about it. Post-Ubuntu, the description of an “African Fashion Show” seems comically inadequate for explaining what Ubuntu is. The word, Ubuntu means togetherness, and this perfectly summed up the feel of the show. I spoke with the founder of Ubuntu, Kendra Eno, who gave me a little background on the event. Kendra, whose mother is from Barbados and dad is from Nigeria, wanted to create an event that truly represented the diversity within St Andrews. She explained, “I started Ubuntu because it is necessary for the future of St Andrews. It is necessary to empower the minorities here. We need to show St Andrews we are more multicultural. There are so many different ways to be black and so many different cultures. This is a demonstration of how proud we are of our heritage.” This year marks the second season of the Ubuntu show, with big and better plans for Ubuntu 2020.
Enough with the background, now it is time to discuss the show. When the show finally began, I found myself instantly captivated. Starting with a spoken word poem, I could already sense that this show would be unlike anything I had ever seen before. Scanning the room, I did not see one person frowning. From start to finish the audience was engrossed in the glory of the dancing, the spoken word performances, the singing, and the colourful, vibrant, stunning, African designers. When the poem was read stating: “I am tea boiling in a pot, dark, strong, and boiling hot,” I was truly breathless. It was chillingly powerful to hear all the spoken word performances and really hear the strong spirit they represented. The depth and vision behind this show made it stand out as hands down the best fashion show I have ever been to. Whenever the stage went black I found myself praying that the show was just a little bit longer, not wanting the fun to end. From taking audience members on stage to do dances and games, the crowd worshipped at the altar of Ubuntu and was blissfully happy. One could not help but dance, jump and shriek as the African music played in the background and the models danced along the catwalk. Just when it seemed the show could not get any better, the Saints of Seoul did a dance routine that knocked the socks off of everyone in the audience. Likewise, the auction, rather than selling expensive wine tastings and trips to Spain, auctioned off the clothing within the show, giving the African designers plenty of facetime and recognition. Items went for very reasonable prices with people paying about 25 pounds per item of clothing. Furthermore, The show, dances, and performances were outstanding and truly made the night.
If I had to describe Ubuntu in a word, it would be joyful. I have never felt so happy, refreshed, and proud at any other St Andrews event. Though all the fashion shows are wonderful and impressive in their own right, Ubuntu is by far my favourite. The dancing, the fast-pace of the show, and the love that fills the room is something unparalleled to any event I have ever been too. The narrative Ubuntu recovers, the story of a rich, flourishing, and strong Africa is a story too easily forgotten. With poems, dances, and designers showing the glory of these cultures, it is truly amazing to see so many different nations represented in what is usually a sea of white faces. Additionally, I personally loved the fact women of all shapes and sizes were in the show. Not only was the show ethnically diverse, it was also representative of the average female form with models looking healthy, strong, and most importantly, real. To me, this made the show more enjoyable and really rung true to the “togetherness” theme.
As the show came to a close, the after party picked up in full speed. Usually, most students leave after fashion shows and retreat to the union to go find their friends. However, everyone stayed for the after party and danced the night away. The music was amazing and the audience went crazy, with everyone rocking out. There were people who looked like they were straight out of “So You Think You Can Dance” and then those who looked like they were trying to get water out of their right ear. But, it didn’t matter how good you were at dancing—everyone was just so happy to be there, dancing and enjoying the music. It was just a celebration of life. The whole experience for me was not only moving but thrilling. I’m so honoured to have gone to such a well organised, thoughtful, inclusive, and diverse student run event. Thank you to Sophia (Director) and Adowah (Co-Director) for all of your handwork.
For those who missed Ubuntu, your loss—you sat out on an incredible night. However, for those that did attend, look out for an email next week from the committee so you can vote on what charity Ubuntu donates to this year.