by Saimah Shareef
Benedictine University held a Liberation Fest in order to raise awareness for the countries in the Middle East that are amidst conflict, on Wednesday, November 28. Sponsored by the Students for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Students Association and the Black Student Union, the event assembled a diverse collection of guests that came to show their support for the cause. The festivities included an open mic night, free Mediterranean food, and student revolution booths. Most importantly was the performance by the renowned guest poet, Amir Sulaiman.
From insightful illustrations of poetry, rap, and singing to an animated Arab folk dance, called the Debka, the audience was kept entertained by all the performers. Sophomore Viola Ranjha expressed her enthusiasm upon witnessing a different rendition of the Debka. “It (the Debka) was definitely awesome! I’ve never seen it done that way. Usually it’s really subtle, but with the fast-paced moves and flips it was really exciting to watch.” Entertainers came from UIC, Roosevelt, and Loyola to partake in the festivities of the night and support a noble cause. The guests not only were students from different schools but also ranged to family members that came to show their support.
Amir Sulaiman’s appearance and performance at the BenU Liberation Fest was definitely an incentive for many attendees that showed up as he recited several of his works with passion. Amir Sulaiman is an honorable and well-known spoken word poet who has been a two time HBO Def poet, has worked with Russell Simmons, Mos Def, and Jesse Jackson. Sophomore Viola once again uttered her awe upon witnessing the presentation of his works. “I thought the event overall was very well-planned, inspiration, and fresh. The main speaker (Amir Sulaiman) spoke with immense emotion and was able to connect to the different nationalities in the audience, which made him more personable.”
Another sophomore, Chayce Nunez-McClellan, agreed that the event was executed very well by the groups that planned it. He also got a chance to speak personally to Amir Sulaiman.
“Amir Sulaiman’s poetry was the highlight of the evening. I was most moved by his performance of his poem “Dead Man Walking”. He began by saying that his reasons for reciting the poem were fourfold: out of desperation, to remind those who would like to be reminded, to remind those who would not like to be reminded and to inform those who do not know. The parallels between the Palestinian people’s struggle for survival under the oppression of the Israeli government and the centuries of enslavement, degradation, and violence my own ancestors faced as dislocated Africans in America are stark. The people gathered at the event were exposed to the reality of the situation of the Palestinian people in a new light through the poetry that transcends the mundane nature of prose and speaks more clearly to the human soul. A dire situation, such as the one in Palestine, needs to be presented through every medium possible to the hearts and minds of the American people. We must take an active role.”