By| Asia Airvin
Florida A&M University hosted the 2018 Harambee Festival at Cascades park on Saturday to bring the community together to enjoy an African-themed day of food, performances, accessories, and clothing.
Every year, the Harambee Festival’s clothing is a specialty that many people look forward to. Darton State student, Yazmine Chambers, said she travels every year to attend the Harambee Festival just for the clothing. “I live in a small town where finding cultural clothing is quite a task, so I look forward to racking up here every time I come,” she said.
The festival’s vendors offered a plethora of clothing varieties, ranging from t-shirts, blouses, pants, dashikis, gowns, and accessories. One local vendor, the Alley Shoppe, located on South Adams, offered authentic African clothing from as small as newborn sizes to adult sizes.
According to assistant store manager Nana Deloatxh, the Alley Shoppe is like a one stop shop for all personal needs. She said, “Not only do we sell clothes and shoes, we offer hygiene products such as African black soap, fluoride toothpaste, and shea butter.”
Community members value African traditions through supporting black owned clothing businesses at Harambee Festival
Another popular vendor, Bling Bling Blessings Mobile Boutique, owned by Dexter and Marcinia Bryant of Marianna, offered an assortment of African apparel and accessories. Although this was the first year the business served as a vendor for the Harambee Festival, customers made it a great turnout for the business.
“We really underestimated how many customers we would receive at this event. We didn’t think it would turn out so great, but it did,” said Mr. Brant.
Mr. Bryant added, “Every weekend my wife and I set up our business at different festivals and events, but this is the biggest turnout we’ve ever had. We brought 85 dashiki skirts and we only have about 5 left and the day is only halfway over.”
Gregory Leath’s Blackside Shirt Company, established since 1988, was designed to spread the message of black equality and black power. “Since I can’t express this message in the workplace, I decided to come up with my own business where I could vividly express my ideas through my work,” said Leath.
Leath, a first timer at the Harambee Festival, like the other clothing vendors, received booming business at the event. Customers were attracted to the messages portrayed through his work, which attracted even more people to buy clothes.
While the festival offered much entertainment, many people celebrated through clothing. It is safe to say the festival fulfilled its purpose in emphasizing black culture though what we wear.
Submitted: February 26, 2018