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December 11, 1987 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-12-11

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Page 12-The Michigan Daily-Friday, December 11, 1987
Students participate in

It's a day after Christmas, but
beginning December 26, Black
Americans will celebrate a holiday
just as meaningful - Kwanza. The
University's Housing Special
Program's Office began the festivi-
ties last week when more than 300+
University students gathered for pre-
Kwanza activities held throughout
the dorms.+
The seven-day program is designed
to display a "feeling of oneness," said
Housing Special Programs Assistant
Robbie Dye.
The holiday is an attempt to
provide Black Americans with family
and cultural ties without stressing the
commercial ties inherent in
Kwanza "brings back a connection
from our roots and reaffirms the
connection between Afro Americans
here in the United States and Africa,"
said Judy Sturgis Hill, housing's
student services associate.
Hill described Kwanza, officially
observed from December 26 to
January 1, as an "African-American
cultural holiday." Kwanza, she said,
is not celebrated anywhere in Africa,,
but was founded by Maulana Ron
Karenga and brought to the United
States as a way for Black Americans
to remember their roots.

This year's Pre-Kwanza
celebration was coordinated by the
Housing and Special Program's
Office and the Black Student Union.
The Pre-Kwanza events, including
movies, discussions, guest speakers,
talent shows, and various other forms
of positive African American cre-
ativity, were directed by the Minority
Peer Advisors and the minority dorm
councils of the residence halls.
First-year LSA student Barbara
Yearby said last week's Kwanza
activities were "fun a n d
enlightening." University students
began celebrating the holiday here in
the early 1970s.
South Quad Minority Peer
Advisor and LSA senior Kim Jones
said, "Kwanza is designed to celebrate
Black family, Black culture and Black
Karenga is currently a lecturer in
Pan-African Studies at California
State University at Los Angeles and
an adjunct professor of social change
at the United States International
University in San Deigo, California.
The word Kwanza is Swahili for
"first fruits." One of the more widely
used languages in Africa, Swahili
serves as the linguistic base of the
Kwanza celebration.
Kwanza is based on seven
principles: Umoja (unity) strives for

the maintenance of the Black family,
community, nation and race;
Kujichagulia (self-determination)
defines, names and speaks for Black
Americans; Ujima (collective work
and responsibility); Ujamaa
(cooperative economics); Nia
(purpose) develops the Black
community in order to restore Black
people to "their traditional great-
Kuumba (creativity) and Imani
(faith) are intended for Blacks "to
believe with all our hearts in our
parents, our teachers, our people our
children our leaders and the
righteousness and victory of our
struggle," said a Housing Special
Program's bulletin.
The dinner table setting is also
important to Kwanza. Mkeka, the
straw mat, represents tradition. The
Kinara represents the seven branch
candelabra which symbolizes the
stalk from which "we all sprang."
The Mshumaa are the seven
candles which signify each of the
above mentioned principles of
Kwanza. The Mihindi, ears of corn
represent the offspring of a house or
nation. The Kikombe is the unity
cup and the Zawadi are the gifts
representing the fruits of the parents'
labor and the rewards to children for
good acts.


First year LSA student Crystal Gardner, above, shouts "Haranbee!" ("let us pull together") as part of the
pre-Kwanza activities. Students, left, participate in the Kamaru (feast), traditionally held on the last night of
the festivities.

Photos by Karen lHandelman

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I .



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