Local organization hosts first Harambee Honors Dinner

Hampden County

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A local organization has hosted its first Harambee Honors Dinner to award community members who support the Harambee Festival.

Organizers told us they wanted a way to honor the people that made it possible for them to put on the Harambee Festival for the past two years. Harambee means “all pull together” in Swahili.

India Anderson, a Springfield resident attending the dinner told 22News that the word Harambee is all about community as well.

“The Harambee is an African word about community and bringing people together,” said Anderson.

Sunday night at the Portuguese American Club in Chicopee, Hickory Street, Harambee Inc. honored the people who’ve made their annual Harambee Festival possible.

Honorees included Springfield city councilors and festival fundraisers.

“When I was young that was like the biggest thing, the Harambee. We would wait for the Harambee to come. You would just be in anticipation just waiting for it,” said Anderson.

The festival in 2018 was the first one in 13 years and was held at DeBerry Park in Springfield. The returned annual event celebrates African American culture and history as a way to bring together people in the community.

Committee Co-Vice President Jenal Rentas told 22News it’s like their version of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

“It’s kind of like the Puerto Rican Day Parade except for African Americans for the black community,” said Rentas.

Many people at the dinner, including Jenal, had ties to the event when it happened decades ago.

“When I was younger, I always performed in it. With dancers and things like that. So it’s an event for our community,” said Rentas.

Organizers told 22News Sunday nights dinner is a great way to see the support for the Harambee Festival that gets bigger every year. The next Harambee is scheduled for the summer of 2020.

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