Over the past week Black Students’ Union hosted their annual weeklong celebration of Kwanzaa, a Pan-African celebration that honors African unity and culture by focusing on seven core principles: Umoja (unity), Ujima (collaboration), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), Imani (faith).
The first event of BSU’s “For The Culture Week,” began on Dec. 3 in Rettner Hall, where different students and members of Pan-African Students’ Association, Student Organization for Caribbean Awareness, and Spanish and Latino Students’ Association joined for a discussion on African identity and experience. The discussion event, called “Uniting Us,” embraces two of the principles – Umoja and Ujima, unity and collaboration.
Senior Winston Scott, the president of BSU, told the Campus Times that the importance of the weeklong celebration was to unite black students. He said that they have been “planning since October to make sure everything is organized.”
Sophomore Oluwasegun Owoyele, the business manager of BSU, agrees that unity is important: “We need to come together, united, so we can be more impactful in this community.”
“Feed Your Soul”, held on Dec. 6 in the Douglass Community Room, was organized by Owoyele. It focused on the principles Imani and Nia, faith and purpose. Kwasi Boaitey, a wellness professional from the University Counseling Center, spoke at the event, encouraged everyone to self-reflect, gain confidence, and plan for the future.
“Sustaining yourself as a student of color and dealing with stress [can be hard], we want to help people to be able to deal with this stress,” said Owoyele on why he decided to invite Boaitey for the event.
Wednesday evening, BSU hosted an artistic gathering called “Trap and Paint” in the basement of Douglass Leadership House. Students from BSU and the larger community came to paint and listen to hip hop, with the goal of creating portraits that represented blackness and black culture.
The Kwanzaa dinner took place Saturday night. The process of organizing the dinner largely stems from the success of the event in prior years.
“Most of the work came from getting the word out there […] that Kwanzaa is happening,” First-year Yarnetta Leonard, the first-year representative for the BSU, said, adding that she particularly hoped to draw in first-years.
The dinner featured a candle-lighting ceremony and performances from various student groups. Most of the artists that performed during the event are friends with members of the Union. Leonard talked about the camaraderie of the group and the strength of the community around BSU.
“Everyone knows each other, and we know this is what they do. All we have to do is reach out and ask, would you mind performing for Kwanzaa?”
Correction (12/11/2018): The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Scott spoke about the importance of the week’s events uniting “African students,” when Scott was in fact speaking about uniting black students. Additionally, SALSA was misspelled as the Spanish and Latina Students’ Association. It is the Spanish and Latino Students’ Association.