The NC State African American Student Advisory Council held its annual Harambee celebration Wednesday night in the Washington Sankofa room of the Witherspoon Student Center.
“’Harambee’ translates as ‘Let Us Come Together,’” said Toluwalope Oyelowo, chair of AASAC and a junior in biomedical engineering, who was one of the hosts of the event.
Harambee, which comes from the Kenyan tradition of community self-help events, featured various cultural performances, including lots of dancing and singing.
A table stocked with fruits, cheeses, hot entrees and a large sheet cake sat in the center of the completely filled room, free for guests to approach and help themselves.
The North Carolina Public Interest Research Group attended the event, hoping to inform students about elections and voting.
The event began with greetings by two hosts, John Miller IV, a senior in psychology, and Oyelowo.
Traditional greetings were exchanged among guests throughout the event. The words “Ago” and “Ame” could be heard among guests throughout the evening.
A person uses the term “Ago” in order to get somebody’s attention, to which the other person replies “Ame” in order to show respect, Miller said.
After the greeting, attendees participated in the libation ritual, in which pouring a liquid represents an offering to a god, spirit or to people who have died or are still alive.
Darryl Lester, assistant director of the African American Cultural Center, and Brayndon Stafford, a sophomore in FYC and an AYA ambassador, watered a fern and made offers with every drop of water poured, honoring the creator first.
“We pour Libation to those who came here,” Stafford said during the ritual.
“We pour Libation to those who made us come here,” Lester followed. “Special Libation for the faculty, for their work.”
“We pour Libation for those who come after us,” Stafford said.
After the ritual, the Uninhibited Praise Gospel Choir performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which was written by John Rosamond Johnson. The song is often referred to as the national anthem for African Americans.
After the introduction, Miller and Oyelowo introduced many prominent figures in the NC State black community, including people who worked with AASAC.
Tracey Ray, the interim director of the AACC, spoke at the event. In her speech she expressed the pleasure to work with the African American community and AACC. Ray said those who had decided to join the community had made the right choice because participation helps expand members opportunities.
Ray said the African American community not only has the opportunity to obtain an education, but also to “break barriers” and “build bridges.”
She encouraged the younger members of the audience to contribute their time to the African American community, specifically AACC, because “success leaves footprints.”
After the speech, Ray invited three students to the stage who actively participate in the African American community at NC State. Marshall Anthony, a graduate student in higher education administration, Alexis Teasdell, a senior in middle grade education and April Gaddy, a graduate in counselor education, were honored for their hard work and accomplishments and received awards and certificates for their achievements in AACC.
Later, Oyelowo introduced 27 AASAC leaders and even more new members of the community, most of whom were freshmen.
“At AACC, we are a family,” Miller said. “We are grounded for students. We provide personal connection, communication, cultural information and mainly support to our students.”
Miller encouraged all students to consider getting involved with the AACC.
“Even though our organization is emphasized on African American culture, we are open to people of any cultural background and race,” Miller said. “AACC is an open community where everyone can come over and feel like home.”