On Wednesday, August 24, 2011, the African American Cultural Center once again celebrated Harambee.  Harambee, which translates to “let us come together” in Swahili, is an event that the Cultural Center puts on annually to introduce the incoming students to faculty and upperclassman, as well as to celebrate members in our community.The event is very traditional based, which is what makes it so special.  It is an opportunity to learn about our culture and traditions even though minority students attend a Predominately White Institution.  By opening with the djembe drum, and having the amazing Uninhibited Praise Gospel Choir perform, everyone knew that Harambee had started.  When walking into the Washington Sankofa room students see a room full of beautiful people coming together to learn from one another, and catch up on the experiences of the summer.
After a few performances the event moved to the second floor of Witherspoon Student Center to view the newest exhibit in the Art Gallery, “Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World.”  This exhibit featured the work of award winning  photographer, Phil Borges, who highlights the “plight and promise” of women around the world. This was not your ordinary exhibit however.  To enhance the exhibit for Harambee, there were women of different nationalities speaking in their native tongue.  Each woman would speak their native language and then translate it into English.  The purpose of this was so that the community can understand how it feels to have someone speak to us in a language that is unfamiliar.  It was a beautiful sight to see people go from person to person learning about various cultures.
Afterward, students were signaled to return to the Sankofa room by the djembe drums to continue the program.  Students were instructed by the adults to sit in the front of the room in honor of the people who came before us who were not allowed to. That is one of the things that the Cultural Center enforces that makes the university special.  The older leaders teaching and molding the future leaders into productive citizens and role models.  It is no coincidence that most of us chose this university for the friendly atmosphere and excellence exhibited by alumni and even present students.  It is a personal belief that some of that excellence is due to the incredible work of the cultural center.
After settling down poetry was performed by a few amazing poets and leaders across campus.  Dayna Principe, a senior in Political Science, performed her own written piece entitled, “Skin Deep.”  In her poem she discussed how people view her in comparison to who she is. The power of the poem stemmed from the realism and pride exhibited when she spoke.  After her, Jeremiah Kilimanjaro, junior majoring in Business Administration and Carizma Thomas, junior majoring in Communications, recited a poem entitled “What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black,” by Margaret Burroughs.  This poem demonstrates pride and hope as well as it presents the negative perceptions of “black,” and then presents the hopes of a triumphant overcome in the future. All of the poems left a sense of pride in the Sankofa room.
As the program concluded students and others all came together, holding hands in a circle to participate in Harambee.  The group all said “Harambee” as loud as possible seven times and held the last “Harambee” for as long as they could.  Then everyone all fellowshipped and ate with one another like the family that this community truly is.  If one misses Harambee he or she has missed something special.  It’s definitely something that one must attend every year.