Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

Q is for Quia fécit mihi mágna

Olubusola "Busola" Olukoya
December 7, 2013

My two amazing room-mates and I

I came to Kenyon to pursue my interest in Biology, Writing and Music (Voice), but I ended up being interested in things I never knew I was interested in before! I took dance classes, became a co-president of the Newman Club (the Catholic Club on Campus), joined the Kenyon Community Choir, decided to stop taking dance classes and to use the Community Choir as my fine art credit, became the director of the Gospel Choir my sophomore year, started teaching West African dance as a fitness class, and began doing research in the lab of Professor Hewlett McFarlane, who was one of the people that inspired me to come to Kenyon in the first place.

Hold it right there! See, I know what you’re thinking; “All this sounds too good to be true. Great things don’t just all happen like that.” And, you are right. The paragraph above is devoid of the struggles of the only Igbo/Yoruba girl trying to fit in at an American college, the amount of sleepless nights that – I shouldn’t really put in, but do anyway to – help keep my head above water as a Pre-med Neuroscience major at Kenyon, room-mate conflicts, relationship struggles (that’s a whole other story for another time), and the internal struggle of trying to reconcile my beliefs to all the new experiences I’m being exposed to everyday. All this is no easy task, but where’s the joy in life if you always counter the good stuff with the bad?

Growing up in Nigeria taught me to “Count your count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” This is one of the songs we sing during the offertory at Mass, and a song I sing to myself when it’s 1 am in the morning and I am in no way prepared for a 9 am Organic Chemistry exam the next day. By this time, I’m really freaking out (I mean, come on, who wouldn’t be?) but then I tell myself “Count your blessings and everything will be okay. He has done great things for me so far.” I’m glad to say that this gives me strength in those dire times and keeps me going when all else seems futile. I hope that you all will have access to a higher being, to fate or to some other source of inspiration if you ever go through emotionally and physically tasking circumstances.

Quia fecit mihi magna was also my favorite line from the Magnificat by Pergolesi that the Kenyon Community Choir performed this evening. This was after the last Mass on Campus for this semester at which I handed over my officer position to the next generation of Newman club leaders. By this time next week, I will also be handing down to the next Gospel Choir director, Tomas Grant, who has been like a brother to me since we first met. I should be happy that I’m going to have more time for my schoolwork, but these two Kenyon Organizations were like my babies. I know they are in good hands and I am so glad to have watched them grow.

So, while singing the Magnificat, I thought about the wonderful people I have met, the amazing things I have been able to do with these organizations, and the wonderful talents I discovered in pursuing these interests. It brought a whole new depth to Pergolesi’s piece that the song is still on my mind right now as I write this. “Quia fécit mihi mágna qui pótens est, et sánctum nómen eius : Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is His name.”

On a side note, I’ve included links to two recordings. The first is “Noya na?” , a South African spiritual that was performed by the Community Choir during the concert. The song was sung in Xhosa and is asking if the audience is going to Heaven, the place where there is no suffering. This was recorded during practice the day before one of my really good friends, Philisile Dube K’13, returned to Swaziland. And, when we sang this song this evening, I thought of Phili’s departure and of Nelson Mandela’s death. Noya na Phili? Noya na Madiba??

Noya Na

The second recording is of the Kenyon College Gospel Choir’s rehearsal of “Everybody Clap your hands” originally performed by Joshua’s Troop. We will be performing this at our annual Christmas Concert next Saturday at 7pm in Brandi Recital Hall and I am EXCITED!!

Everybody Clap Your Hands