BYU’s Tribe of Many Feathers club and the BYU Polynesian club organized an event at the Tanner Building yesterday to remember the BYU student who died on Dec. 4.
The event featured music performed by the BYU Women of Color club, Buffalo Junior and Greyhawk (a Native American drum group), Living Legends, Black Student Union, Polynesian club and Tribe of Many Feathers.
Those in attendance gathered on the west side of the Tanner Building, forming a circle around the lighted area where performers would sing, dance and pay tribute.
The words of “Abide with Me; ‘Tis Eventide” by a representative from the BYU Women of Color club opened the event, and those in attendance joined in on the third verse.
The BYU Polynesian club then sang “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy” and “Aloha ‘Oe.”
Living Legends then sang “Folofola Mai a Susu” a Tongan song that means “Thus saith the Lord.” Living Legends staff costumer Maya Nitta then sang a solo, accompanied by the Living Legends, titled “Humble Prayer.”
“Music for me is the only way that I can really express how I’m feeling about anything,” Nitta said.
Some of the words of Nitta’s song include: “Lord please hear my humble prayer. Let me know that thou art near. Let me feel thy arms around me. Let me feel thy lasting peace.”
Nitta said it meant “a ton” to her to perform at the event.
“I don’t even think there are words,” she said. “What little that I can do will never suffice what I’m sure this family is going through. And it means so much to me that I can do what little I can.”
Halfway through the event, those who were gathered walked in procession around the building to the east doors. Paper bags with cut out hearts lined the walkways, illuminated by candlelight. There, by the east doors, the BYU Black Student Union performed three more musical numbers.
After the program concluded, those in attendance laid flowers and placed their lit candles on a white sheet provided in remembrance of the student.
Anessa Atuaia, a senior sociology major and a member of the BYU Polynesian club, attended the event.
“It’s just really beautiful to see everybody come together,” Atuaia said. “It’s sad that we all had to come together to celebrate someone’s life this way, but I think it’s also a good thing to remind us that we’re all family, and we can come together at times like this.”
Darnel Apelu, a student involved with Tribe of Many Feathers and BYU Polynesian Club, helped organize the event.
“On Wednesday and Thursday night, the MSS office (Multicultural Student Services) had a little get together in the JSB for students to come and just talk and share,” Apelu said. “It was there that a lot of us from Tribe of Many Feathers and the Polynesian club wanted to organize this event and to celebrate the life of our friend.”
Apelu said they wanted the event to be something that highlighted the different cultures — Native American, Polynesian, African-American, Latin American and Hispanic American.
“A lot of the performances that were done were in a way that either honored people or celebrated life,” Apelu said.
According to Apelu, many of the cultural songs performed are songs to show respect, such as the honor song performed by Buffalo Junio and Greyhawk and the Living Legends’ performance of the haka.
“It was very humbling and also very inspiring to see people come together to unite under one purpose and to pay their respects to someone that, maybe that people knew very personally or people didn’t know at all,” Apelu said. “It was just amazing to see all these different ethnicities, races and cultures come together, united in one purpose.”