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Dunster House Celebrates Kwanza Festival

By Edward Josephson

The Dunster House Black Table is celebrating this week an African harvest festival known as Kwanza.

Each night, members of the group perform a candle lighting ceremony in the dining hall, and post a Swahili motto commemorating one of seven principles, such as "unity," "faith" and "self-determination" on a mammoth sign on the dining room wall.

Jonathan Hollingsworth '80, president of the Dunster Black Table's steering committee, said yesterday the Black Table is holding the celebration "to share our culture with others in the House."

"Kwanza is not religious in any sense," Hollingsworth said, adding that the festival is related to Thanksgiving not to Christmas or Channukah.

Cheryl L. Whalen '80, another member of the steering committee, said yesterday the festival is a step toward making the Black Table more than just a place to socialize.

A series of discussions on the problems of black students and a celebration of Black History Week in February are now in the "organizational stage," Whalen added.

Kwanza, a Swahili word meaning "the first fruit of the harvest," is celebrated in various forms in many African countries, but has only been revived in the United States in the last 20 years, a spokesman for the African Heritage Institute in Roxbury said yesterday.

"Kwanza is the closest thing to a religious holiday we can agree on," the spokesman said.

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