Hosted by Sankofa: the Black Students’ Union, the annual Kwanzaa Celebration at Hobart and William Smith will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11.
“Sankofa is devoted to celebrating and honoring the achievements and life experiences of people of the African diaspora,” says Niame Traore ’18, the organization’s president, noting the role of Kwanzaa in the recognition of those achievements and experiences.
The African American and Pan-African holiday, celebrated by millions throughout African communities worldwide, is typically observed from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving, with the aim of reconnecting people with their African roots and history. Dating back to the 1980s, Sankofa’s Kwanzaa celebrations have featured music, food, dancing and poetry from various cultures within the African diaspora, and have brought to campus guests like the renowned poet Black Ice, the neo-soul music group Blaquestone and Kwanzaa founder Dr. Maulana Karenga.
This year’s celebration will be held in the Vandervort Room in Scandling Campus Center. During the event, friends of Sankofa are invited to participate in the event’s Kinara candle lighting ceremony. Keynote speakers will address this year’s theme, “The Intersectionality of Blackness,” while reinforcing and celebrating the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits” in Swahili, is an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrating family, community and culture. Founded in 1966 by Karenga, former chair and professor of Black Studies at California State University-Long Beach, Kwanzaa began as a way to create a sociohistorical consciousness among Black people. Karenga spoke at the Colleges’ Kwanzaa celebration in 1998.
Sankofa, a word which takes its roots from the Akan people of today’s Ghana, loosely translates to “go back and fetch it,” or “it is not taboo to go back and retrieve what has been forgotten or lost.”