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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Center for Black Studies brings taste of culture with Pre-Kwanzaa

Gabby Crabtree
Center for Black Studies Associate Director of Academics Ajewole Duckett, Ph.D. reads a libation statement. Duckett requested participants echo “ashay” every time she said it in the statement. (Gabby Crabtree | Northern Star)

DeKALB – Community, culture and consideration are all words that were felt during the annual Pre-Kwanzaa event.

The event was held by the Center for Black Studies 6 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Holmes Student Center Capitol Room.

Kwanzaa is a seven day long international holiday that starts Dec. 26.  Each day highlights a different principle and a candle is lit in honor of the values. In order, Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith) are the principles.

The Pre-Kwanzaa event kicked off with an important African ritual called Libation.

The Libation was led by T. Ajewole Duckett, Center for Black Studies associate director of academics.

“It is an African ritual to honor both those who have come before, those who are here and those who will come in the future,” Duckett said before she started a prayer and Libation.

During the ritual, the 65 people in attendance repeated “Ashay” when signaled by Duckett, which means “be with us”.

Pre-Kwanzaa had seven different NIU organizations, each  representing a different day of Kwanzaa. Each group spoke about  the meaning of their respective day, how it relates to them, they would light the candle corresponding with their day. At the end of their presentation they  awarded someone in their organization that exhibits the quality of their day.

Seven candles of Kwanzaa burning at the front of the pre-Kwanzaa event, which took place Thursday in the Capitol Room at Holmes Student Center. Each of the seven candles represent a different principle: Umoja, Kujichagulia Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani. (Sean Reed | Northern Star) (Sean Reed)

The Association of Black Psychologists represented day five, Nia (purpose) Verae Fields, a psychology senior and president of ABPSI, said Nia goes hand in hand with the mission of ABPSI.

“As an organization we see our purpose to create a more conscious NIU, ” Fields said. “We do this by facilitating discussions and events and advocating for black mental health on campus by fulfilling our purpose to create a space for black students to grow and thrive.”

Pre-Kwanzaa is an event valued by many different NIU students.

Trevon Smith, a graduate research assistant, said Pre-Kwanzaa is a fun way to wrap up the semester while also kicking off the holiday season.

“Kwanzaa can sort of feel like a lost tradition in the black community and so I am glad that we brought it here at NIU,” Smith said.

Ashanti Ford, junior sports management major, said Pre-Kwanzaa is an important moment to get the black community together and show NIU a part of black culture.

“I’m really excited that we had the turnout that we did, it was much more than anticipated,” Ford said.

After the initial ceremony ended, guests were encouraged to go back to the Center for Black Studies to eat fried chicken, green beans and  play games including Uno and Jenga.

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