By Areeg Naeem ’15
Amid a whirlwind of traditional African dancing, music and role-playing, many were moved and excited by the 25th anniversary of the Kwanzaa festival, which was held in the auditorium on December 18.
“I thought the Kwanzaa festival was well performed,” said Jadah Tappin ‘16. “I enjoyed every aspect of it.”
The Kwanzaa festival has long been part of this school’s history. It was created 25 years ago by the teacher, Mr. Savage, and a group of African American students. It was originally performed in the basement with minimal designs and sets but has evolved much over the years.
“The festival is way to mesh African roots with culture,” said Mrs. Volcy, the advisor of Black Heritage Alliance. “It’s a way of remembering the seven principles of the African community.”
This year’s festival embodied the seven principles of Kwanzaa and illustrated them throughout the show. The festival began with loud and rhythmic music from the Blue Angels Drum Line, which immediately captured the audience’s attention. An entertaining play followed in which the actors and actresses told of the story and value of Kwanzaa.
“It was pretty hectic at first, but we managed to pull it together during the scenes,” said Dahnay Bazunu ‘14, one of the actresses in the role-playing. “ We put a lot of hard work and patience into the show, just for the tradition.”
Throughout the show, the story of Kwanzaa was told through fiery and energetic dancing. The dancers wore beautiful, brightly colored clothing. The African dances told of an enchanting story and each step was performed flawlessly with unwavering confidence. In order to achieve such precision, the dancers and choreographer, Kayla John ‘15 spent many days working hard to perfect the routine.
“The choreography and the festival as a whole was very stressful,” said John ‘15. “There were many nights that I came home late, but the outcome was great. When dancing, I felt strong and confident as if I were touching people’s hearts.”
Modeling traditional African attire was another main part of the show. The models wore stunning clothes as they walked down the stage. The dim lights and African music
also added to the lively atmosphere. Making the event truly memorable, the step team came out onto the stage and gave an incredible performance.
During intervals, powerful words from poems exemplifying the seven principles evoked thunderous applause from the thrilled audience. These poems were read by certain members of the show and symbolized African tradition.
“I definitely feel that our message was conveyed to the audience through the poetry readings,” said Bazunu ‘14. “After the festival had ended, a lady came up to me and told me that she loved the show and was inspired to learn even more about Kwanzaa.”
As a whole, the audience loved the Kwanzaa festival and praised it tremendously. Tappin ‘16 said that the dancing was lively, the modeling was beautiful and the poetry was well read. The play was also amusing and the step team rocked the stage. In agreement, Tichina Davis ‘16 praised the dancing and the powerful words of the poems that were read.
“The dances were one of the best parts of the show and the dancers were amazing,” said Davis ‘16. “ They had a strong energy towards the crowd.”
Although the Kwanzaa festival was viewed positively by the audience, the BHA members still believed that certain areas needed more work, but nevertheless the festival was a success.
“We had difficulty getting the hours we needed in order to run the show but we made it work,” said Janine Simmons ‘14, co-president of the BHA. “Nonetheless, I’m still extremely satisfied and happy with the outcome of the show. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.”
“To clarify everyone’s suspicion of Kwanzaa festival being canceled, it is a false rumor. Kwanzaa festival will continue to take place,” said Simmons ‘14. “Principal McDonnell came to Mrs. Volcy and reassured her that he will not be canceling Kwanzaa festival and added that he enjoyed the show too.”