From groove to Grammy: A recap of Black History Month

By Nicole Wanjiku Gitau

February: A month synonymous with love, religious holidays and grand gestures, holds deeper significance for the Black community all over the world. Here at USIU-Africa, the 2024 Black History Month celebrated not just love, but also African history, culture, and identity.

Under the theme 'Africans, Black Identity, and the Arts', the month kicked off with Julius Owino, renowned as Juliani, a multi-time winner of the Groove Awards and a prominent hip hop artist. Known for his emotionally charged and socially-conscious music, Juliani brought his insights on African identity and the arts as the chief guest of the opening ceremony. Students and faculty eagerly absorbed his words of wisdom as he focused on the intersection of Black culture and the arts.

The opening event boasted a distinguished lineup of keynote speakers, including Dr. King, affectionately known as Queen Mother, along with Ms. Cynthia Kinyua, Mr. Brian, renowned as Graff Matwana, Prof. Austin Bukenya, and Prof. Mwendwa Ntaragwi. Each speaker eloquently tailored their message to resonate with the essence of African Arts, enriching the celebration with their profound insights and perspectives.

Later in the month, a pop-up market later buzzed with activity, offering a vibrant array of Black culture. For two days, vegan delicacies, Ankara fashion, and Black-owned brands adorned parking lot B, all accompanied by lively Afro beats that filled the ears of passers-by and shoppers alike.

In mid-February, just a day after the pop-up market, there was a Black History Month movie screening that took place in the Auditorium. The screening focused on the movie, ‘The Woman King’- A film that depicts the extraordinary tale of the Agojie, an unparalleled all-female warrior unit safeguarding the African Kingdom of Dahomey during the 1800s. This emotionally charged narrative traces the remarkable journey of General Nanisca (portrayed by Oscar-winner Viola Davis), who ignites the King's resolve to confront adversaries bent on dishonoring their legacy and eradicating their traditions.

Later in the month, the finale of the Black History Month festivities culminated in a memorable closing ceremony, featuring esteemed guest speakers, among them the Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, and artist, Bien Aime. Drawing a throng of students from across the campus, Bien's presence on the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) rooftop was electric, as eager listeners anticipated his insights on Black identity and the arts. His compelling performance and impassioned discourse on celebrating black history left a profound impact, evoking a palpable sense of longing for further enlightenment.

After, some members of the Radio Club seized the opportunity to interview Bien Aime, capturing his perspectives on life, music, and cultural heritage.

This February at USIU-Africa wasn't just about festivities; it was a reminder of the importance of embracing African culture and identity every day, with February serving as the pinnacle of celebration.

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