Hoping for a Harambee


By Yolanda D. White

In Kenya, a “Harambee” is a community event designed to raise money for an ill or otherwise needy person, or for a situation, such as a school in need of repair. As a noun or an exclamation it is also used as a Swahili rallying cry urging the community to “get organized and work together around a common goal.”

For the Riverwest Currents, it is my hope that this new, regular feature will act as a Harambee of sorts, and cause an avalanche of Harambee-“ism” and maintain Harambee spirit throughout this community, infecting the city, state and the country. Whew! Lofty goals for a busy mother of a fifth grader, literacy center coordinator, AODA case manager, freelance writer and aerobics instructor – yes – but serious goals nonetheless.

It’s easy to say we should work together when there are important issues that directly affect us. It’s a bit more challenging to get involved in community issues, that – if you close your door – you will never see. The Riverwest community has done a good job of being inclusive, and truly allowing diverse, multi-faceted currents flow through it. There continues to be unique opportunities to highlight and partake in the growth, prosperity, arts and entertainment of a rich and mighty neighborhood to the west – a neighborhood called Harambee.

The Harambee neighborhood is bordered by Capitol Drive on the north, Holton St. on the east, Walnut St. on the south and I-43 on the west. At the southern part of the neighborhood is Brewers Hill, a section of the city that has been undergoing a restoration of its own for the nearly 20 years, and Halyard Park, a suburban-style subdivision of ranch homes and neatly-trimmed lawns. At its northern edge lies Messmer High School, on West Capitol Drive. I find myself particularly excited about my chance to be a catalyst for this neighborhood, with stories that inspire, words that wake people up, and conversations with people who have voices they didn’t even know were important. They will not all be heart wrenching, grueling finger-pointers – though a few may need to be. Many will just be about regular folks, innovative ideas and awesome organizations on the come up.

Look for these regular features as you peruse your Riverwest Currents, lest you be surprised one day to open your door to a Harambee, smack dab on your front lawn.

Riverwest Currents online edition – January, 2006