by JR Valrey, The Minister of Information
I recently got in a quick interview with W-P Raissa Somdah, the founder, CEO and director of WAA REEM: International Fashion and Music Week, which is going on in San Francisco from June 16-18. It starts today with the opening panel, which includes the cultural advisor to the Ministry of Education, Cultural Arts and Tourism of Burkina Faso, at 868 Kearney, in San Francisco from 4-8 p.m.
Other notable people included in the weekend of events include international fashion designer Zek Styl from Burkina Faso, Burkina Faso reggae artist Roger Wango, the Bay Area’s own Kelda Musik and Bobo Kwame’s Designs, and the weekend of events will be catered by Aneth of “A Taste of Tanzania” catering. I sat down with W-P Raissa Somdah, and she gave me a quick description of what was going to happen and the history behind it all. Tune in and pull up.
JR Valrey: How did African Fashion and Music Week start? And what does it consist of?
Raissa of WAA REEM: The WAA REEM concept, which means in Burkina Faso-West African language “Come and have fun or come enjoy the vibe,” is an idea born in 2013 in Africa – whose mission is to bring together Africans and African Americans cultures around fashion, traditional dances, art and African Cinema to empower young talents. It is also about African Intellect and Investment with a business show “Africa Now Ited.”
JR Valrey: What has your journey in the fashion world been like? When did you know that fashion was one of your passions? How old were you? Please describe your environment at that time?
Raissa of WAA REEM: I’m a young woman entrepreneur from West Africa who got acquainted with the fashion business after a beauty contest in 2006 in my home country Burkina Faso. After landing a degree in Finance Accounting in 2008-2013 (Bachelor) in the West African Central Bank Business University (ECOWAS) named CESAG in Dakar, Senegal, I decided to continue my passion for fashion.
In 2014, I created my own brand, a line of African-inspired clothes and accessories, and opened a store in the Burkinabe presidential district.
JR Valrey: Who is participating this year? Where are they coming from respectively?
Raissa of WAA REEM: For this 2023 edition, we have International guests from Burkina Faso-West Africa that come on the behalf of the Minister of Culture, a fashion designer, an artist musician and two panelists about Africa Economy and Investment during the Panel “Africa Now Ited,” which will be held this June 16 from 4:30-8 p.m. The address is 868 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108.
We do have local designers, such as @W.P Raissa SOMDAH with her Brand @RAIDAH, Deanna Sumler with Brand “Lady Fruition,” the sportswear of the brand LassK, the International Designer “Zek Styl,” and Bobo Kwame Designs from the East Bay.
JR Valrey: What are some of the hallmarks of today’s African fashion? What are the waves and trends of today in continental couture?
Raissa of WAA REEM: African fashion has the hallmarks of the fabric representing the identity of each state, in culture and tradition transmitting a message or an identity in fashion. Reasons why we have woven loincloths, Kente in Ghana and many others according to the African state and its history.
JR Valrey: What will the music component of the week consist of? Who are some of the musical guests?
Raissa of WAA REEM: For this 2023 edition, we will have a reggae artist musician from Burkina Faso with Roger Wango, an Nkan Music with her band and dancers, a Bay Area artist from Nigeria, we will also have KeldaMuzik a Hip-Hop singer.
JR Valrey: Can you give us a run down of the events that are scheduled? Who is scheduled to be in attendance?
Raissa of WAA REEM: The Fashion and Music week is scheduled for June 17 and 18, 2023. Sat. June 17 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m with an African night and DJ from 10 p.m.-1am Sunday, June 18, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. with raffles.
JR Valrey: What is your favorite part of organizing an event of this magnitude in such an important metropolitan city as San Francisco?
Raissa of WAA REEM: San Francisco being the center of the Bay, bringing together several localities and accessible to the biggest fashion brands, in such beautiful diversity, was the best choice to hold such a unifying event allowing African culture in general to be highlighted.
JR Valrey: How could people get more information?
Raissa of WAA REEM: People can get more information about each day of the 2023 Edition on Eventbrite.com for @Waa Reem International African Fashion & Music Week. Here is the link: https://www.eventbrite.com/cc/waa-reem-internationalfashioncausesafrica-us-439629.
JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of Black New World Media, is also the editor in chief of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper. He teaches the Community Journalism class twice a week at the San Francisco Bay View newspaper office.