Celebrating the soul

By Linda Luk

Good food and good people make a good combination.

That’s what Van Amos, program coordinator for the Center for Black Studies, said about the annual Soul Bowl.

More than 100 people gathered Thursday night at Freedom Hall of the Wesley Foundation to celebrate black history, culture and struggles.

“Soul Bowl is a big dinner. It is the event to end Black Heritage Month,” said Dereka Southern, president of Zeta Phi Beta sorority. “One of the reasons for Soul Bowl is that we serve soul food.”

The event is for everyone to come together in the NIU community. It’s rare for people to come together for a positive thing, and this is a positive event, Southern said.

“I came because I wanted to support the Center for Black Studies because they always support my organization,” said Nancy Kinyanjui, senior graphic design major. “I also came to eat good food.”

Hosted by the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, the program featured an African pledge, poetry reading, libation and the singing of the Black National Anthem.

Libation is an African tradition of recognizing ancestors and those who came before, and it is a way of showing thanks, said Chene Weems, member of Zeta Phi Beta sorority. The tradition consists of watering a plant while recognizing individuals. The plant represents life and the water represents new life, which puts spirit into a new plant.

Many notable African Americans were recognized, including Duke Ellington, Rosa Parks and Sarah Walker.

“My favorite part of the program was libation because it gives a part of our history,” said Monica Lewis, a student at large majoring in printing. “It is very spiritual.”

Jennifer Jennings, Princess Regent of 2002-2003, came because she was invited and also because of a desire to meet people.

The tradition of Soul Bowl started out as a fundraising basketball game between black faculty and staff, Amos said.

“I am extremely excited about the turnout,” Southern said. “This year there are more than last year.”