Omar Tyree to Join Students in Celebration

DeErricka Green | Managing Editor 

Wednesday Dec. 4, 2013, the annual Kwanzaa Celebration will be hosted by Multicultural Student Affairs and the African American Cultural Center, featuring traditional African rituals, food and guest speaker Omar Tyree.

Contrary to popular belief, Kwanzaa is not an African holiday, nor is it aimed at providing an alternative to religion or religious holidays.

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, of African heritage in African-American culture. Many African-Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa do so in addition to observing Christmas. Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to “give Blacks an opportunity to reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society,” according to an article in The Root.

For the last 22 years, the N.C. State community has also come together before the end of the Fall semester to honor the rich tradition. Hosted in the Washington Sankofa Room, the celebration will include traditional Kwanzaa rituals, such as the lighting of the kinara (the traditional candle holder symbolic of African ancestral roots), music, the oral tradition of storytelling, as well as a karamu feast.

“The event serves as a great opportunity for people who are unfamiliar with Kwanzaa to learn more about Multicultural Student Affairs. Omorogbe is particularly excited about her first experience with the celebration at N.C. State. “I have received messages from students, faculty and staff expressing their excitement to attend. I am most looking to forward to hearing our students speak about the ‘Nguzo Saba’.”

The Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles of Kwanzaa, consist of what Karenga called “the best of African thought and practice in

constant exchange with the world.” Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility, Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith) comprise the African philosophy of Kawaida. Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the seven principles. At the event, students dressed in traditional African garments will pair up to explain one of the principles and light the candle in the kinara which represents it.

Author Omar Tyree will also be featured as the guest speaker, motivating students to find their passions and skills needed to

create successful futures and celebrate individual and collective history. “He has an amazing personal story. We hope that [Tyree’s] speech will motivate and invigorate the N.C. State community as it relates to celebrating African-American  history and honoring our traditions as we move forward into the next semester,” said Omorogbe.

Still a relatively new holiday, it was estimated in 2012 that more than 500,000 African-Americans in the United States observed Kwanzaa, according to The Grio. Kwanzaa is also observed in Canada as well as parts of the Western African Diaspora, helping to spread the rich history of African-Americans and the ancestral heritage of Africa.