Following annual tradition, Sankofa will host its fall semester Kwanzaa celebration Friday, Dec. 7, in the Vandervort room. The event includes a sit-down dinner and will feature student performers, as well as a keynote speaker, Assistant Professor of Education Khuram Hussain.
The Kwanzaa event also will include an activity that is designed to promote unity among the student body. The activity typically entails the lighting of the seven candles, each symbolizing the Nguzo Saba: the seven principles. Kwanzaa is normally celebrated from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 of each year as an alternative to Christmas and spans the course of seven days.
A Kwanzaa ceremony may include drumming and musical selections, libations, a reading of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflection on the Pan-African colors, a discussion of the African principle of the day or a chapter in African history, a candle-lighting ritual, artistic performance, and, finally, a feast. It is a holiday based on African-Americans celebrating themselves and reconnecting to their African roots and history. Patrice Thomas ’13, president of Sankofa, says, “Kwanzaa is a cultural celebration of the African American-community. The literal translation is from Swahili, which means ‘to celebrate the first fruits of the harvest.'”
Of the seven known principles, Sankofa will focus on a specific principle called Karamu, which traditionally occurs on the sixth night. Thomas goes on to explain that “[karamu] is the most festive night of the weeklong celebration with an overabundance of speeches, a variety of entertainment, and food to represent the span of Africa’s cultures. This is the night we celebrate here at HWS. This year; however, we are still remaining faithful to the tradition, but we intend to incorporate other cultures such as other cultures’ food in our celebration. This espouses our theme of ‘stepping outside’ and intends to foster building community here at HWS.”
Tickets for the event are currently available for $5. Students may choose to purchase the tickets at the College Store by student charge, cash or credit, or at the Scandling Campus Center during Sankofa’s tabling hours.
Sankofa has been a presence in the HWS community for more than a decade. The club’s mission is to inform the campus, and foster knowledge and understanding of the Black experience both on campus and in American history. Members of the executive Sankofa board are Patrice Thomas ’13, president; Jose Lamerique ’13, vice president; Trevor Bailey ’13, treasurer; Yesenia Morales ’13, secretary; Zoë Van Nostrand ’14, program coordinator; Victoria Thomas ’15, Tolulope Aboyade-Cole ’16 and Iteyna Huff ’16, co-vice presidents; Cyntia Uwycieza ’16 and Scarlyn Gutierrez ’16, co-treasurers; Yesewi Basnet ’16, Jaelyn Britton ’16 and Alexander Amoateng ’16, program coordinators.
The photo above features Kwanzaa 2011.