Keene State College students, faculty and staff of all different races came together to celebrate diversity, Black History Month and the African roots that each one of us have.
The Multicultural Student Advisory Board put on an event called “Celebrating the Motherland” on Feb. 16. The event was surrounded with the idea of honoring Africa and its roots in celebration of Black History Month.
The board’s overseer and assistant of the Diversity and Multiculturalism Office Annie Clark helped the board put on the event. Clark said the board is made up of ten students and their mission is to raise awareness about diversity. Clark explained that this is the board’s first year together and “Celebrating the Motherland” was their debut event. She said the students worked entirely independently to put on the culture-filled event.
The purpose of the event was to show an abstract portrayal of how everyone and every continent has roots that trace back to Africa and those roots are to be honored, Clark explained. She said Africa is represented as the mother and the country as the children.
Student performer Jessica Pierre from Haiti explained during the event that her culture is influenced by Africa. She said every time she thinks about her roots, she thinks about Africa. Pierre went on to express through a story how bravery has been a huge aspect in her life and childhood, which is relatable to Africa. Also a student performer, Sandra Kayira, explained the geography of Africa and how it is the second largest continent on earth. She then went on to explain how Africa is the origin of humans, going back seven million years ago.
She said how the conquest of Africa from 1818-1914 was done by many diverse countries such as Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Russia and the Netherlands.
Students on the board went through a PowerPoint slide by slide, proving that everyone should be celebrating the “motherland” because each continent has roots that go back to Africa
Poetry, stories, facts, clothing, music and dancing were all used in the event to celebrate the roots of Africa.Some of the dancing that was demonstrated included Latin dances such as the Bachata, Merengue and Salsa. Traditional African dances were also performed.
Professional drummer from Senegal, West Africa, Massamba Diop, was a special guest drummer for the sparse crowd who attended the event. Diop, who is a touring drummer, plays the talking drum. He gave everyone a quick lesson on drum names. Diop had the whole audience on its feet dancing by the end of the event.
There were also two back-up drummers playing with Diop who are from Brattleboro, Vermont.
Clark said that at least four of the students on the board are from Africa. However, she said the Diversity and Multiculturalism Office and board is not entirely focused on ethnicity. The board and office, located on the second floor of the student center, welcomes all students but concentrates on their identities, according to Clark. She said she strongly encourages students to stop by. She explained how the board also concentrates on students with disabilities, veterans, non-traditional students, LGBT or any other under-represented class.
Clark also mentioned that there is a lounge in the office that is open to all students and its purpose is to help students create connections with one another. The Multicultural Student Advisory Board will continue to put on events throughout the year to raise awareness for certain issues, Clark said.
Clark said next month, on March 26, there will be an event that is based on struggling with appearances and body image. The idea of the event is that, “you can’t eat beauty.” The event will be more workshop-styled for students.
Savanna Balkun can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org