Black Student Union to host annual Kwanzaa celebration

By Laura Crowley


A tradition for over 10 years at the University, the annual Kwanzaa dinner will take place Monday, Dec. 6 in the Terrace Room. The Black Student Union (BSU) is hosting the dinner to celebrate the holiday that runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

“Kwanzaa is an African-American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world,” said Bryan Coleman ’11, vice president of the BSU. “Throughout the African community, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense,” he said.

Even though it is traditionally an African and African-American holiday, “it is celebrated by everyone who pleases today,” Coleman said.

Coleman said the seven days of Kwanzaa should observe principles of “the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world.”  These principles include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

Jessica Hess, director of Multicultural Student Services, said that the dinner demonstrates to the community what the principles of Kwanzaa are. She said it also shows “how we should all aspire to live by following these principles.”

Nadia Sasso ’11, president of BSU, said that the celebration will consist of events such as a drumming introduction, a speaker who will discuss the importance of Kwanzaa, a libation ceremony, a universal African dance and a performance by actor Lamar K. Cheston on the meaning of Kwanzaa.  Students and faculty can also volunteer to share speeches and monologues to reflect on the celebration.

After the libation ceremony, a spiritual ritual in honor of an individual, attendees will have a chance to decide who they would tribute a libation to.   Maya Chase ’11 said libation is “a form of giving thanks and empowering our loved ones who have come before us and whose shoulders we stand on.”

Sasso said that “the person who they tribute should embody the principles or practice some of the Kwanzaa principles.”

Coleman said the food served is primarily from African-American cultures due to the roots of the celebration. The name “Kwanzaa” comes from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which is Swahili for “first fruits of the harvest.”

This year “fried fish, fried chicken, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, red beans and rice, apple and peach cobbler and cornbread” will all be served, he said.

The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green, and students may dress accordingly.  There is space for 150 students to attend the event.  Tickets ($12 for students) are on sale today in the Elaine Langone Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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