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Students Celebrate Kwanzaa

Zulu Nation Member Speaks for African-American Holiday

By Zoe Argento

More than 70 students yesterday observed the first undergraduate Kwanzaa, an African-American celebration of ethnic unity, with singing, speeches, food, and a talk by T.C., a spokesperson for the Zulu Nation.

"Kwanzaa is a celebration of survival, of life, of building and of creation," said Kristen M. Clark '97, president of the Black Students Association (BSA). "It is the only national non-heroic and non-religious ceremony [for Blacks]."

The ceremony, which was sponsored by the BSA, took place in the Lyman Common Room at Radcliffe.

Both white and Black students, many wearing African or Caribbean clothing, attended the festival. Most of the participants said they had not celebrated a Kwanzaa before.

The keynote speech was given by T.C., who emphasized the importance of eliminating discrimination.

"Before you are a Jew, a Muslim, a Christian, a Black, or a white, you are a human," he said.

"The hip-hop culture has changed thinking around the world," T.C. said. "Especially through our music, we spread the message of love, peace, unity, and having fun."

Some students also outlined the seven official principles of Kwanzaa--unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose and creativity--at the celebration.

Students gave a short description of each idea and Juan G. Fernandez '97 translated them all into Spanish.

"Kwanzaa has a lot to do with teaching, because a lot of people don't know what it is," said Nancy Monestime '95, who said she has attended a few Kwanzaa celebrations.

Reactions from the audience were mostly positive.

"I was impressed by how well-organized it was," said Nester Q. Clark '98.

People said they were impressed by the Kuumba Brothers' singing in the dark as everyone held candles.

"I thought that was beautiful," said Joshua D. Bloodworth '97.

Nisha D. Hitchman '97 said she changed her name to Nia, the Swahili word for the Kwanzaa principle of purpose.

"In that my name is Nia, Kwanzaa has had a great affect on my life," Hitchman said.

Despite the African name, which means "first fruits" in Swahili, the celebration is American in origin, created by Maulana Karenga, who is now a professor at UC Santa Cruz.

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