UMOJA celebrates an early Kwanzaa
November 16, 2012
Allyson Frazier / The Courier - UMOJA kicked off the first day of their Kwanzaa celebrations with an open mike night. “UMOJA” means “unity” in Swahili and served as the theme for uniting the campus for the night. Events were held throughout this week, along with a bake sale to raise money for UMOJA’s activities.
Thanks to UMOJA, Kwanzaa came early to Monmouth. All week the campus organization has been hosting events that highlight a specific principle each night similar to traditional Kwanzaa. The main difference between this traditional holiday and UMOJA’s Kwanzaa events is the events on campus that students could relate to and the seven-day celebration which was condensed into five days.
Monday was centered around the word “UMOJA,” Swahili for “unity” and involved an open mic event where participants were invited to share their talents. Tuesday’s principle was “KUGICHAGULIA” and means self-determination; relay games were held in the Huff Center.
Wednesday ushered in two principles, “UJIMA” and “UJAMAA.” UJIMA means cooperative economics so the UMOJA club organized a bake sale. UJAMAA means collective work and responsibility which inspired the club to donate all the proceeds from the bake sale to a charity.
Thursday was “NIA” meaning purpose and a film was shown on why Kwanzaa is celebrated. Friday Night will end Kwanzaa week with KUUMBA (creativity) and IMANI (faith) and by creating a mural and hosting a potluck dinner.
This is the second year of UMOJA’s existence as well as their Kwanzaa celebration which President Raven Robinson hopes will help the club to grow.
“If all we do is get people to events in the beginning, that is a start. They are coming. Eventually we want them to be a part of the creation, a part of the family.
This week we have had a lot of freshmen come out and it is important they know all there is [on campus] to stay involved. Ultimately the impact we want is for people to know what Umoja stands for and to want to be part of that mission.”
Kwanzaa is a non-religious holiday that was established in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to empower African-Americans and is ordinarily celebrated December 26-January 1. While Kwanzaa and UMOJA’s primary mission to celebrate and empower African-Americans they want to reach out to all races, religions and ethnicities.
“We really have been targeting everyone to come and participate, especially the freshmen,” says Robinson.
“They have been so enthusiastic to have fun with everything we have been doing, and the UMOJA Executive Board is excited to see that our efforts are paying off.”
If you are interested in becoming a part of UMOJA, weekly meetings are every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Tartan Room.