Students at The UWI Five Islands Campus celebrate Black History Month

On February 20, in observation of Black History Month, students of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Five Islands Campus in Antigua and Barbuda hosted a celebration aimed at drawing attention to the dynamism, plight and strides made by forefathers. The event, which included multiple presentations of artistic, musical dance and cultural expressions by the students, marked a significant milestone in the history of the Campus since its opening in September 2019, proving that The UWI spirit is conscious and alive at Five Islands.

Guild Representative, Mr Caleb Gardiner said the event helped bring the students together for a common University experience. “At the quad (campus quadrangle) we paid tribute to our ancestors through the talent of our students. We can compare the hard work of our descendants to the establishment of The UWI, Five Islands. If there is no struggle, there is no progress”, he said. He added that he is exceptionally grateful for the full participation the student body. “I was elated to see all of the students performing and supporting each other’s performances. The aim is to create a family-oriented feeling. We are few in numbers currently, but our unity and courage will raise the standards of The UWI”.

Performances at the celebration ranged from musical renditions on guitar, from the likes of Bob Marley, a vocal interpretation of Etana’s “I Am Not Afraid” to the singing of the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Spoken presentations included Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” along with pieces from other poets.

While students gathered and performed outdoors in the quadrangle, members of staff watched, sang and danced in support. Interim Director of Administration and Finance, Ms. Daniella Hickling, who sat among the students, said she was absolutely engrossed by the talent and oneness. “The presentation was a culmination of all that makes us Caribbean, from the poem by Maya Angelou, Still I Rise… and making an ancestral connection to the UWI’s motto: Oriens Ex Occidente Luxwhich means Light Rising from the West. We understand our own role in Black History, the significance and presence of pride in what we do and how we live. Our Heritage is not due to skin colour but the radiance and vibrancy of our spirits”, Ms. Hickling stated. She added, “It was a day of light with brilliant pieces as well as spirited, cultural representations. I was indeed proud!”

As a symbol of the occasion, the students signed their names on a drawing of the African continent surrounded by flags of the Caribbean.