Last week, the African American Cultural Center celebrated Harambee, beginning with the Call of Drums played by students. Harambee is Swahili for “Let us come together!”
In Harambee, it is a tradition to recognize ancestors through the pouring of libation. Presenter Dr. Craig Brookins began by saying,”If you know the beginning well, the end will not be a problem.” The ritual of Libation has three components: the water for nourishment, the earth and the community. Each time the water is poured into the earth, it carries a significance for something we are thankful for.
Following Libation, Matthew Wright sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Dr. Frances Graham, the new director of the African American Cultural Center, was presented a commemorative Sankofa bird amongst other welcome gifts. Afrikan American Student Advisory Council (AASAC) board members then introduced themselves before all first-time attendees were acknowledged and welcomed.
The closing traditional ritual of joining hands in Harambee was performed with all guests participating. Participants raised their hands seven times, saying “Harambee,” with the seventh time extended as long as possible to represent that we are committed to working toward unity until we are exhausted. Following the ceremony, guests were able to see a sneak peak of Dr. Synthia SAINT JAMES’ art exhibition opening later this month in the African American Cultural Center Gallery.
Harambee is a special opportunity for our community to come together after classes have begun. Says student O’Licia Parker-Smith, “The African American Cultural Center has taught me so much about my ancestors’ traditions, and the Center carries on a legacy with grace and honor. I feel that every student here, especially those of African heritage, should learn as much as they can from the Center. From this association you grow a deeper appreciation for the Center and for your culture.”
O’Licia Parker-Smith is a second-year student majoring in Communication and an intern in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity.