By Aleah Trotman ‘18, Thelumsa Jasmine ’18 and Ainon Hia Kazol ‘18
Umoja! Imani! Nia! Ujamma! These are four of the seven principles of Kwanzaa which many learned about at the annual Kwanza festival held by the Black Heritage Alliance under the guidance of Ms. Marie Volcy on December 15
Actors, models, dancers, singers, poets, a drum line, and the STEP Team all joined in to put on a two-hour performance followed by a feast welcoming parents and students.
Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration honoring African heritage. The holiday is observed from December 26 to January 1.
Spending hours everyday after school in preparation of the festival, the performers put on a show that both entertained the audience, as well as educated them on the cultural significance of Kwanzaa.
“I came for the appreciation of the culture,” said Saad Amar ‘17.
Before the festival started, students handed out papers with the BHA Pledge of Allegiance to audience members. The crowd was encouraged to stand up and join in as the leaders recited the pledge.
The essence of the holiday is told through poetry written and performed by Dominique Arthur ‘17, Kiara Salcedo ‘17, Tyler Green ‘17, Jordan Pericole ‘17, Wensa Pierre ‘17, and Matthew Correa ‘17. Each poem depicted the seven principles of Kwanzaa which are Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).
“I’m looking forward to the dancing and singing,” said Clarice Noziere ‘20 before the show started, “I’ve heard they had great performances in previous years.”
Dancers performed African style influenced choreography.
This year was the first time performing in the Kwanzaa Festival for dancer Eliane Alexandre ‘17.
“It was worth all the blood, sweat, and tears. It was such an amazing show to be apart of and I’m so happy this year was my first performance,” Alexandre said.
The actors produced skits, entertaining spectators with comedic dialogue. The actors also portrayed the importance of black pride. Each principle of Kwanzaa was represented separately in the skits.
“I was nervous at first because this is my first year as an actor in Kwanzaa,” said Jordan Plaza ‘18. “But as soon as I heard the support from the audience, it gave me the confidence that I needed.”
Everyone involved in preparing the Kwanzaa Festival worked extremely hard to get ready for the show. Practices were held throughout the week. Dance choreography, modeling poses, scripts, costumes, decorations, and lighting were all put together by students.
“We have been preparing for the show since October,” said Brittany Therenot ‘17, director of the Kwanzaa Festival, and secretary of BHA.
Therenot said each participant in the show had to audition for their role. The directors of each component of the show were also interviewed in order to gain their position.
“I was also modeling director last year,” said Paule Ouedraogo ‘17, “I give the models poses, go to the tailor to get their costumes, and I designed the costumes.”
The dedication of each member in the show helped to create a successful performance, celebrating African cultural heritage and values in the spirit of Kwanzaa.