Candlelit vigil honors life of Tundun Lawani

Students walk along South Street during a candlelight vigil in memory of Tundun Lawani ‘14 on Monday, Oct. 28. (Michelle Orr/TKS)

Students walk along South Street during a candlelight vigil in memory of Tundun Lawani ‘14 on Monday, Oct. 28. (Michelle Orr/TKS)

A hush fell over the crowd as candles were lit outside the Center for the Fine Arts until the voice of Umoja Gospel Choir Director Jesse Dixon permeated the crisp evening air, leading the Umoja choir in a gospel song and guiding the crowd of roughly 100 members of the Knox community as they moved towards South Street in honor of Sekinat “Tundun” Olamitundun Lawani ’14.

Beginning inside CFA at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28, those participating in the walking vigil pinned blue ribbons and marched down a South Street lined with electric candles, looping around towards Seymour Union to commemorate Lawani’s passing and the role she played in the community during her time at Knox.

The procession, consisting of Harambee Club members, Umoja singers, Delta Delta Delta sisters, other members of Greek life, faculty and other students that Lawani left behind, arrived in the Lincoln Room for a Celebration of Life ceremony in her honor.

An expression of thanks for the variety of ways in which Lawani touched those around her, the ceremony included songs, scripture readings, poems, a slideshow of candid moments and even a dance tribute. Stories were also shared of the young woman that made those who remember her laugh and smile — how she shared her exceptional cooking with friends or sang in the library.

Reflecting on the mark Lawani made upon campus, senior Ema Bassey said that “[Tundun] is everywhere and this, in all honesty, keeps me going.”

Senior Carmen Carabello, who attended last year’s vigil but did not know Lawani, explained after the ceremony that “last year, it was a shock to us. This year, it was still a shock, but at the same time, it is really nice to see us all come [together] as a community and feel that love and support.”

Echoing this sense of healing, President Teresa Amott remembered the heartbreak on campus last year “vividly” and saw this year’s vigil as “a movement from trauma to remembrance,” indicative of the “very extraordinary presence that [Tundun] had on campus.”

Harambee Club President senior Azumah Cofie described this year’s event as a celebration and “a chance to appreciate Tundun and [to] share memories of her.”

As Cofie expressed in the ceremony’s opening address, “Tundun may be gone, but she is not forgotten.”

Kiannah Sepeda-Miller, Associate News Editor
Kiannah Sepeda-Miller is a senior majoring in anthropology-sociology and double minoring in journalism and English literature. She began writing for TKS during her freshman year and served as co-mosaic editor as a sophomore. Kiannah studied and reported in Morocco under Round Earth Media in the winter and spring of 2015 and was subsequently published in Al Jazeera. She completed an editorial internship at New York magazine the following summer.

Tags:  candlelight celebration of life ceremony CFA delta delta delta harambee Seymour Union South Street Teresa Amott Tundun Lawani Umoja Gospel Choir vigil

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