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Celebrating Love and Unity

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kwanza poster
2013 Black Student Association Kwanzaa poster.
Kwanza reading
During the candle-lighting ceremony each of the seven Kwanzaa principals are described.
Eddy Atinda and Derin Gilbert get dressed for one of the performances.

UMD's Kwanzaa Event
Showcases Talents of Students,
Faculty and the Community


Candles, brightly colored clothing, and a chorus of African drums. That's Kwanzaa at UMD. This year the celebration is scheduled for 7 pm, Dec. 14, in Kirby Ballroom.

Princess Awa-ada Kisob said, "We've got some great entertainment lined up." Kisob is president of the UMD Black Student Association (BSA), the sponsor of the event. "Oluwaseyi Daniel Oyinloye is coming back to perform," she said. Oyinloye is a filmmaker and a former UMD African American Student Services director.

Brian Robertson, BSA past president said, "I've been going to UMD's Kwanzaa for the past three years. It's going to be great. We'll have food, singing, dancing, storytelling, and drums."

Chang’aa Mweti, a renowned African storyteller will also perform at the Dec. 14 event. "UMD's Kwanzaa celebration revolves around love and unity," he said. "Kwanzaa reminds us that we are all in this together. If someone has a problem, it’s not just their problem, it’s everyone’s.” Mweti is an associate professor in the Department of Education.

Song, dance, drums, and storytelling.

History of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is an African American celebration. From December 26 to January 1, each of the seven days of Kwanzaa honors a different African principle, which are the foundations of building strong, productive families and communities in Africa. These principles include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Kwanzaa is often most celebrated with a large feast on December 31 and decorated in red, black, and green. Red represents the blood shed from the struggle for freedom; black, the color of the people; and the green, the color of the fertile land in Africa.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, in response the 1966 riots in Los Angeles. He wanted to create a sense of community among African-Americans in the United States and honor the values of ancient African cultures. Karenga felt Kwanzaa could "give Africans an alternative to the existing holiday and an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitating the practice of the dominant society."

By combining ancient African harvest celebrations such as those of the Ashanti and Zulu families, Kwanzaa was formed. The name was derived from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” meaning “first fruits of the harvest.”

Story by Kaitlyn Hukriede and Cheryl Reitan, December, 2013.

UMD Feature News | News Releases
UMD Feature News editor, Cheryl Reitan,

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