LI hosts Jamaican and African dinner in Lucy’s

Regina Siefert

Walking into Lucinda’s for the Jamaican-African dinner Sunday evening was a treat. Adorning every table were flecks of glitter and flags from Jamaica, Tanzania, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Senegal. Traditional Jamaican and African music played in the background. Artifacts like traditional clothing, slippers, woodcarvings, and traditional combs from the different countries filled a side table. And, best of all, the mouth-watering, delicious odor of Jamaican and African food wafted through the dining area. Preparation for this event must have taken a lot of time and effort – that much was obvious. “About two weeks before the dinner, the [Lawrence International] board met with the food services staff – in particular Lynn Hagee and the two chefs, Bob [Wall] and Julia [Sati] – and we decided on the menu, setting, etc.,” said Lawrence International president Choyning Dorji. They chose the menu options that have been the most popular in previous years.
What they came up with was West African peanut pork, Jamaican curried chicken, African yellow raisin rice, West African greens, and mafe – a traditional stew made from ground peanuts and sweet potatoes. For dessert, they chose a tropical fruit salad and Jamaican banana cake with banana sauce, all washed down with Jamaican fruit punch. According to Dorji, past dinners were cooked by the LI members from the particular regions in order to preserve the “authentic flavor” of each course, but two years ago Lawrence changed its policy and decided that in order to avoid food poisoning and other problems, the chefs from food services would do the cooking instead – with feedback from LI members, of course.
The dinner was not without a few glitches. When a few members went to Lucy’s Sunday afternoon to set up for the dinner, the facility wasn’t ready. “We went to Lucy’s at 1 p.m. to find nine tables and about 50 chairs in the whole dining room,” said LI member and board hopeful Darion Soares. “Note that this event was for about 200 people.” Soares, Dorji, and a few others worked hectically to find more seats and tables and set up the room for the night. Their work certainly paid off. “The food was phenomenal,” said Chiara Terzuolo, a freshman member of LI states enthusiastically. “The music was cool and there was a nice atmosphere, and I liked that they put articles from Jamaica and Africa on display.”
Before the food was served, Dorji made a short speech introducing the board members of LI and describing the organization. LI, he said, is the largest and most diverse organization on campus and represents over 55 nations.
Over 210 people came to the dinner and not one of them left with an empty stomach. The money raised from the dinner – along with the money raised from the mini-cabaret earlier in the term – will be sent to Kobby Buanya’s family in Ghana, who, prior to his tragic death, was an active board member of LI.