Kwanzaa Fest Celebrates African Culture

Midwood students danced in traditional African attire.   Photo Credit: Neftretari Powell

Midwood students danced in traditional African attire.

Photo Credit: Neftretari Powell

By ISABELLA FRANCOIS

Lights, Camera, Kwanzaa! To bring in the new year, Midwood High School celebrated the 30th anniversary of its annual Kwanzaa Fest on January 5. The show is dedicated to showcasing African heritage and culture through acts like dancing, singing, poetry, modeling, and acting.

The show started with the entrance of the BHA (Black Heritage Alliance) Club’s co-presidents Kawan Joseph ’19 and Jodens Monereau ’19 delivering a short but meaningful speech thanking everyone who came to the show and who helped bring it to life. 

“A special thank you to the parents,” said Joseph, “for allowing your child to participate in BHA and truly form friendships and connections that are unbreakable.”

Throughout the show, the audience followed a play about a student lost in an African history museum who has to find her way out with the help of influential African American figures such as the Black Panthers, Zulu Tribe, and poet Maya Angelou. 

Certain scenes in the play led to short interludes with an alumnus or current student reading a poem related to Kwanzaa or black heritage. 

“If the blood we have is the same red within, why discriminate based on the tone of skin?” read a 2016 Midwood alumnus. “So what if we are different in the texture of face? It does not deny we are members of the human race.”

Shortly after, the audience was treated to a performance by BHA’s African Dance group.

Tahlia Gourgue ’20 said, “Watching all the dancers come out in between the aisles and on the stage was really exciting especially because this was my first time being at Kwanzaa Fest. I would definitely watch it again and again.”

Religion also played a role in the show as there were gospel choirs and dances. As the choir sang “Father Can You Hear Me” by Tyler Perry and “Never Would’ve Made It” by Marvin Sapp, the audience began to sing along to the music. 

 “As soon as people recognized the songs, everyone started singing,” said Ariana Dewar ’20. “I felt the love between everyone in the auditorium.” 

The co-presidents and treasurer of BHA then joined one another on stage to introduce one of the main contributing teachers, Ms. Imani Taylor. 

Soon, more people gathered on stage with signs as Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend arrived with a surprise marriage proposal.

She said yes, and the audience clapped and shouted as the host announced a short intermission for everyone to get refreshments and take in the events of the show. 

“I knew something was going to happen when I saw the signs,” said Ashley Woodson ’19. “She deserves it.  She’s a really great teacher.”

As the play neared its end, the audience was  treated to a showcase of African modeling. Students were dressed in exquisitely designed costumes with vibrant color patterns. They walked out strutting in traditional African poses, with fierce faces. 

“I was so nervous until I got to the middle of the stage,” said Jahhira Lowe ’20, a model for the show. “It was pitch black, so I couldn’t see anyone staring at me. I felt so relieved!” 

The actors then returned to the stage to finish the play, with the young student of the story discovering the meaning of Kwanzaa through her experiences in African dancing, music, art, poetry, and culture. 

“Do you even know what Kwanzaa is?” said Girardy Momplaisir ’20, who played the role of Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanzaa. “It is a way to bring all the African people together in joy and not pain.”

NewsCasey Levinson