Black Student Union kicks off the holiday season with a Kwanzaa celebration

Bret Belden

The UNH Black Student Union (BSU) held their annual Kwanzaa celebration on Friday, Dec. 2 in the Memorial Union Building’s (MUB) Strafford Room.

The celebration was advertised as formal and guests did not fail to sport their elegant attire. The Kwanzaa program was comprised of guest speaker Dottie Morris, a Jamaican dinner and a Bamidele drum and dance performance. 

Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration that was created in 1966 by California University professor and chairman of Black Studies Dr. Maulana Karenga. By combining aspects of different African harvest celebrations, Karenga came up with the Nguzo Saba– translating to “seven principles” in Swahili. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith). Families that celebrate Kwanzaa light seven candles, one on each night to represent each of the seven principles. They then discuss what each principle means to themselves and their family.

Students (left to right) Tori Dumoulin, Tara Morong and Delaina pose with Kwanzaa event dancers.
Students (left to right) Tori Dumoulin, Tara Morong and Delaina pose with Kwanzaa event dancers.

The guest speaker for the night was Keene State College Chief Officer of Diversity and Multiculturalism Dr. Dottie Morris. Morris kept her speech short and sincere, reflecting on the power of the African American community despite all the adversity it has faced throughout history. While she did not reflect on each of the seven principles individually, she emphasized the importance of each one to everyone in attendance.

“We should embrace our ancestor’s resiliency, and acknowledge all of their struggles, and use that as empowerment. We need to love ourselves and love others the same way,” event attendee and UNH junior Yamilex Bencosme said.

Following Morris’ wise words, attendees were able to enjoy a traditional Jamaican dish. The menu consisted of curry chicken, oxtail, roti, sweet plantains, salty plantains and rice and beans. The food was delicious and most attendees, especially students, went back for seconds.

Traditional Jamaican cuisine served at the event.
Traditional Jamaican cuisine served at the event.

After everyone enjoyed their dinner, the Bamidele drum and dance performance began. Bamidele performers are known as educators of African culture via dance and song. The performers were teaching the audience on African culture while simultaneously keeping the crowd entertained by allowing them to participate and play the drums.

The Kwanzaa event brought the UNH community together for a night of celebration, with traditional Jamaican food and a guest speaker who resonated with the crowd.