NIU students celebrate Kwanzaa

By Sara Adams

Although Kwanzaa is traditionally observed Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, several NIU organizations will host a Kwanzaa celebration at 7 p.m. tonight in Stevenson Towers North.

The Black Student Union, the Center for Black Studies, BROTHERS and Sigma Gamma Rho will host the program that serves to educate students on the meaning of Kwanzaa. Many colleges celebrate the holiday during the last week of school, said Dr. LaVerne Gyant, director of the Center for Black Studies.

Kwanzaa has been celebrated since 1966, and the Center for Black Studies has been sponsoring NIU Kwanzaa for the last 10 years.

“Basically, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with our past, present and future,” Gyant said. “It allows us to maintain a history and an understanding of the African experience and achievements in culture both here in the United States, Africa and internationally.”

The celebration is an opportunity to prepare and set goals for the next year, and it also gives students the motivation and idea that there are people supporting them through finals, Gyant said.

The program, which is expected to attract 75 to 100 people, will feature the lighting of the candles that represent Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa, and an explanation of what each principle means. The program will also feature the NIU Black Choir, the African Student Association and the Present Perfect Modeling Organization. A reception with food will follow.

Seven principles of Nguzo Saba

Umoja (Unity): To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.