By Jean AMEGBLE, SJ
It has become a tradition at Hekima College to hold a cultural event at the end of the civil year for all students, professors and workers in order to celebrate the cultural diversity and promote our particular traditions. On Friday, November 30th, all the acquaintances, friends, students and professors gathered at Hekima to celebrate this cultural fiesta. Among the main attendants were Fr Deogratias Rwezaura, Sj, Rector of Hekima College Jesuit Community, Fr John Okoria, SJ, the principal of the Hekima University College. The theme of this year is “encountering cultures”. Four parts marked this year’s cultural celebration: the lecture on Culture and Youth by Fr Chukwuemeka Orji, SJ, professor of Old Testament, the cultural mass celebrated by Fr Laurenti Magesa, professor of African theology, the food fair and the different cultural presentations.
Youth and culture
Father Orji, SJ addressing the attendants of the lecture said “there is a contradiction, a tension between youth and culture.” For Fr Orji,
SJ, the contradiction is due to the absence of youth comprise between 15 and 24 years at Hekima. The youthfulness that is important for him to talk about has a “metaphorical sense, a symbolic reality”. He continued arguing, “Youth can only be for us a spiritual reality because we left youth long time ago. We experience youth as our capacity to cause youthfulness in others, our capacity to make others or ourselves become youth.” Building on the exemplary life and courage of five young men and woman, Fr Chukwuemeka Orji, SJ invited the participants to walk in their steps. Those young men are Stanislaus Kostka (polish novice Jesuit died in his 18th years old), St Aloysius of Gonzaga (Italian Jesuit died at 23 years old), John Berchmans (Belgian scholastic died at 22), Saint Thérèse of Lisieux( Carmelite nun died at 24) and Jesus ( Jew died at 33.) All these youths devoted their lives for a greater cause. They sacrificed their lives to help and manifest love to others. Their youthfulness is that capacity to make others feel loved and the courage to devote their life for a greater cause despite their young age. For the professor of Old Testament, the culture of spiritual youth that we need to learn and realize in our lives takes all his meaning from the Hebrew root of the name youth: “yaladeh”. It means the experience of bearing, being born, engendered. Young, adults are invited to bear love and share it in the world. That is the culture of the real youthfulness. Each particular culture should help us to reach that spiritual reality that is love.
Celebrate God in our cultures
After the great lecture by Fr Orji, SJ, the participants were invited to take part in the cultural mass animated by the choir of Hekima University College and presided by Fr Laurenti Magesa, professor of African Theology.
It was an enculturated mass with songs, procession of the bible with incense, proclamation of the Word of God by students acting like griots, the praise of God through songs and dance, the sharing of the bread. The mass was an expression of the beauty of our different African cultures and the joy of finding God in our own cultures. Prayers were said in the different languages across the continent and it helps the participants to be in communion with God.
The food fair that followed the mass was equally a success, an opportunity for all to taste and enjoy the food of Nigeria, South- Sudan, Madagascar, Congo, Kenya, Ghana. Dancing groups from Madagascar, South-Sudan, Malawi, Kenya and Burundi entertain the attendants through beautiful performance. Demonstrations in Karate and Taekwondo were also part of the cultural night. The fiesta ended with popular songs and dances executed by all the participants.
The cultural night held on this Friday November 30th at Hekima College, Nairobi- Kenya, was a great success and an opportunity to encounter different African cultures and celebrate the divine presence in our midst.