Set on a hill overlooking the nightlights of Kigali, Rwanda from Atelier du Vin, was an unforgettable night of culture, food, fashion and music. It was a perfect evening to celebrate the transformative power of African creativity with over a hundred attendees at the inaugural Africa Soft Power Gala & Awards.

Shimmering gowns, glittering jewellery, pleasant music, great food and dashing suits were the order of the day. The exquisite African-themed decor and captivating lighting served as the perfect backdrop, accentuating the glamour and sophistication of participants.

Nkiru Balonwu, Founder & Creative Director Africa Soft Power

“Wait,” asked the gorgeously dressed, Anita Erskine, CEO of Anita Erskine Media and the event host, “isn’t it such a great pleasure for all of us here to showcase what true African creativity looks like tonight, for all the world… and all the continent to see?”

Like Anita, stunningly dressed African business leaders, award-winning designers, accomplished creatives, traditional rulers and government administrators all togged up in their finest attires. While the clinking of cocktail glasses and the hum of animated conversations filled the room amidst sheer elegance and beauty.

Catch glimpses of some of the most remarkable highlights of the night and distinguished guests, keep scrolling to view exclusive photographs:

Mary Edoro, Chief of Staff-Head of Strategy BellaNaija
Lanre Olusola, The Catalyst

Rwandan Afro-pop singer Alyn Sano mesmerized with a captivating performance

Taking to the stage with infectious energy, Alyn Sano quickly captivated the audience with her soulful performance and electrifying stage presence. She kept guests on their feet for the most part delivering breathtaking melodies of some of her most popular hit singles which reminded us of the enormous talents domicile in the African music ecosystem.

Illume and Business of Photography teamed up to capture the most colourful moments with editorial studio set-ups providing guests with professional photoshoots

In what could be best described as a celebration of creativity and collaboration, Illume creative studios joined Kola Oshalusi’s Business of photography to capture the bright, vibrant colours of African and other fashion on display, alongside fleeting moments of awesome conversations between guests in the most captivating storytelling approach.

Designers; Turfah, Kezem, Rwanda Clothing, Asantii, IZUBAA and Chocolate Clothes Global, shine on the runway. 

Curated by Project Sufuri, the runway was an outstanding highlight of the event with a range of designers showcasing their latest collections, alongside unique styles and designs. Turfah, Kezem, Rwanda Clothing, Chocolate Clothes Global, Asantii and IZUBAA were among the designers that wowed the audience with their exquisite and innovative collections.

Kezem told the Rwandan story, through fashion with his signature print patterns, cow horns and cow patches dominating most of his designs, while IZUBAA created a lovely sensation, thrilling guests with her infusion of French style and African prints.

Tola Adegbite’s Turfah mixed the simplicity of form with extravagant architectural shapes, vibrant colours and luxe fabrics to create a bold expression of luxury for everyone at the event.

Rwanda Clothing graced the runway with its chic looks while Asantii, a Made in Rwanda brand that works with designers from across the continent, showcased its stylish line which can be found in locations across Africa and Europe. Meanwhile, Chocolate Global Clothing gave us fashion intricately adorned with netting, long flowing sleeves and other signature adornments.

Cocktails for Kings and Queens by the World’s 1ST African Luxury Rum from Ghana

Guests were treated to sumptuous Reign cocktails specially designed for the evening by Amma Mensah, Founder of award-winning luxury rum brand, Reign. Made in Ghana, Reign rum is created at a certified organic farm and distillery in the agricultural heartlands of the Asante Kingdom. Just what the doctor ordered.

“Africa must leverage Soft Power to Achieve Significant progress”, says H.E. Amb. Charity Manyeruke, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Rwanda in a goodwill message 

Serving not just the elegant looks alone, H.E. Amb. Charity Manyeruke, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Rwanda represented H.E. Amb. Guy Nestor Itoua, Ambassador of the Republic of Congo-Brazzaville in Rwanda & Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Rwanda, to deliver a goodwill message in celebration of Africa Day.

According to her, the diversity of African fashion, music, arts and overall creativity will achieve significant progress for the continent if we leverage soft power to drive the growth we seek.

Rwanda and others recognized for advancing African Soft Power

As the sounds of African rhythms and melodies blended harmoniously with the sizzling of mouth-watering dishes, 5 awards were presented to recipients at the inaugural ASP Awards for “Innovator Propelling Africa Forward”:

  • ASP Award for Innovative Strategies in Youth Development and Sports: 

Recipient: Amadou Fall, President, Basketball Africa League (BAL)

  • ASP Award for Sustainable Transformation in the Creative Arts: 

Recipient: 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

  • ASP Award for Transformative Strategies in Financial Integration for Africa: 

Recipient: Ecobank Transnational Inc.(ETI)

  • ASP Award for Systems Change and Innovation in Women’s Leadership: 

Recipient: Adefunke Adeyemi, Secretary General, The African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC)

  • ASP Award for Innovative Strategies in Travel and Tourism 

Recipient: Republic of Rwanda

As the night progressed, top-rated Rwandan DJ Fiston accompanied by Musafiri on talking drums took the crowd on an unforgettable journey of great music that got everyone dancing. Their selection transcended borders and cultures and featured the best of African hits while setting the perfect mood to close the night with high energy.

As a new generation of trailblazers continues to drive growth for Africa’s creative industries and shape global representation for the continent, Africa Soft Power recognizes the importance of acknowledging the efforts of underrepresented voices, those raising the bar, those who are leveraging technology, creative arts, culture, media, tourism, sports and so on, to position Africa as an economic and innovative powerhouse. 

Dr Nkiru Balonwu, Founder and Creative Director, Africa Soft Power, said the inaugural ASP Gala and Awards is only just the beginning. In her words, “While we’re just starting out this year, we want to put our marker in the ground and intend to rival the likes of the Met Gala and the Oscars in the near future.”