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Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

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Avery Pope

Freshman Avery Pope delivers spoken word about Kwanzaa during the event

Photographer: George E. Mauzy Jr.

kwanzaa candles

Part of the Kwanzaa celebration is lighting a candle for all seven principles of the holiday

Photographer: Lauren Cartwright

Section 8

Section Eight, a male a capella group, performed two selections during the Kwanzaa celebration

Photographer: George E. Mauzy Jr.

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University celebrates Kwanzaa holiday early

Annual ends with feast and shout for unity


More than 100 people attended the 29th annual Pre-Kwanzaa Variety Show and Celebration hosted by the Black Student Cultural Programming Board (BSCPB) in the Baker University Center Ballroom on Nov. 30.

Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration held in the United States and nations in Africa and the Americas to reconnect Africans and African Americans to their heritage. The non-religious holiday will be officially celebrated Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

Historically, BSCPB would bring in a keynote speaker for its Pre-Kwanzaa event; however, for the last three years the event has implemented the Kwanzaa tradition of celebrating and showcasing talents within the family by spotlighting performances by students. The celebration showcased students’ talent in music, dance and spoken word.

In addition to the performances, several members of BSCPB read the seven principles of Kwanzaa, also known as Nguzo Saba, and lit a candle for each one. The principles are: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

“The principles of Kwanzaa are important to everyone because they are about community, celebrating and building together,” said Winsome Chunnu, strategic director for diversity and inclusion and multicultural programs and initiatives. “I think now more than ever, within our world, within our country, there has been a swell of voices calling for civility and calling for people to come together, and that’s fundamentally what Kwanzaa is about. The principles are applicable to anyone.”

Christian student organization Anointed Ministries began the celebration singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," also referred to as the Black American National Anthem.

They were followed on stage by the Athens Black Contemporary Dancers, who performed an African dance.

Music therapy majors Jasmine Dabney and Keilah Causey received thunderous applause from the crowd for their vocal performances. Dabney sang “’Rise Up” by Andra Day accompanied with piano, and Causey performed the hit gospel song, “I Need You Now” by Smokie Norful.

Freshman theater major Avery Pope read an original spoken word piece titled, “1+1=7,” which highlighted Kwanzaa and the royalty that is the foundation of the black community.

Ohio University female a cappella group The Tempo Tantrums drew many claps when it performed “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child and “Hate on Me” by Jill Scott.

Male a cappella group Section Eight, which is a part of the larger chorus group, The Singing Men of Ohio, also performed two selections, “In the Still of the Night” by Boys II Men and “I Want You Back” by NSYNC.

“It was a really great show. The performances were incredible. As usual, it was awesome,” Dabney said.

BSCPB President Matthew Kinlow said all students should experience a program like this one before they graduate.

“For students of color, it really just allows for a chance to be prideful in who you are and to experience culture that we don’t really talk about as much, but we live on a daily basis,” Kinlow said. “For majority students, it’s just great exposure. It’s definitely a great way to learn.”

Before ending the event with a free reception that parallels Kwanzaa’s Karamu (The Feast), all attendees stood up, joined hands and shouted “Harambee!” - the Swahili word for unity.