Hofuween: When Africa Meets Albion

A jack o'lantern at the Hofuween Social sits on a table. This year, Hofuween aimed to bring a piece of Africa to the Albion community on Halloween (Photo by Patrick Smoker).

Most people associate Oct. 31 with dressing up in cute costumes and walking door to door asking for candy: The trick-or-treat experience as a kid. This tradition is something people  have done mindlessly for years here in the United States. As children, we were enticed by candy. As adults, we are drawn in by the free drinks at the Halloween parties. 

The Black Student Alliance’s current president, Trevaleyus Harris, a junior from Chicago Illinois, thought about Halloween  above and beyond its traditional celebration. Tying history into the equation, Harris created the idea of Hofuween.

The first Hofuween Social took place at the Welton House on this year’s Halloween night. The event was an educational social that started off with a presentation about festivals such as the Fatima festival that happens in Madagascar. 

These festivals celebrate the people’s  ancestors, similar to Día de Los Muertos. People in various parts of Africa chant ground-shaking songs of praise and strength to their ancestors showing them that they are still loved even in their passing. In some cases, the members of these tribes would literally dance with their deceased loved ones by bringing their bodies out to be paraded on the shoulders of their loved ones. 

Hofuween Meaning

“Hofu” is a word that means “fear” in Swahili, and “ween” comes from the traditional word “Halloween.” On the other hand, Hofuween isn’t just a blend of words: It’s a blend of cultures and traditions. The purpose of Hofuween is to reach out to the African American community and show that we have our own unique history with traditions and cultures that are specific to us.    

“We [African Americans] are a blend to the American culture and the popular culture, which is predominantly white,” said Khaiylah Johnson Bustamante, a sophomore from Brooklyn, New York, who was a volunteer for the event. 

During the presentation, Harris mentioned that the African American community here on campus and around the country are not as embedded in our African roots as other indigenous groups of people. The unfamiliarity with our African roots has a lot to do with what Johnson Bustamente called  the “popular culture, the white culture.” 

A lot of our traditions are hidden or overshadowed by Eruo-centric traditions. The Hofuween Social presented to students, especially Afro-Americans, that we do not have to settle for popular traditions. We are allowed to dig into our roots. We are allowed to be Afro-centric. And research is where we can start. 

“Something that I found interesting was from the Fatima festival in Madagascar is that they bring the dead out of the crypt and dance with [him or her],” said Harris. “I thought that it was interesting because [most people from the United States] put their dead in the ground, and that’s where they stay. But they bring their dead out and dance with them and are happy with them one last time.” 

The distinction between how people in the U.S. treat their deceased loved ones and how African people treat their deceased loved ones symbolizes something that most African Americans are familiar with: A gap from our ancient traditions.

Harris was passionate in bringing this knowledge and power to the Albion’s campus for his people. Africa, meet Albion. Albion, this is Africa.

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