On Tuesday, December 12 the Office of Africana Studies hosted the 2023 Pre-Kwanzaa Festival at Downs Hall. From 1:00 to 3:30 pm guests and students learned about the traditions and origin story of Kwanzaa and enjoyed a delicious meal including fried chicken, fried whiting fish, macaroni and cheese, pound cake, and more. The event also included music, a Student Talent Showcase, and readings of poems. Kwanzaa is an African-American celebration that concentrates on traditional African family, community obligations, connections, and self-development principles. The festival educated the Kean community about the values and heritage of Kwanzaa, along with the seven principles and the Kwanzaa Table.
Professor Nware Burge hosted the festival, and he explained the origin of Kwanzaa. “Today we are celebrating Kwanzaa. We know that the person who created Kwanzaa, Maulana Karenga, had the idea to create Kwanzaa because of the history of colonialism and imperialism...His idea to create Kwanzaa was to reach back to our African heritage and our ancestry to understand the seven general principles of Kwanzaa. And here at Kean University, Africana Studies Department is celebrating that today,” said Burge.
Many students, like sophomore and Business Management major Aniyah Winbush from Irvington, N.J., took the event as an opportunity to learn more about the holiday. “I’m starting to learn the principles. I need to learn the principles because my father and his girlfriend are actually celebrating Kwanzaa this year...I’d like to get into it more,” said Winbush
Biomedicine major and freshman from Blackwood, N.J. Mardhiat Ajetunmobi stated why she decided to come to the event. “To see how African Americans perceive Africa as a whole [and] to get insight on a different perspective.” She also discussed why she enjoyed the nostalgic music, “I like the music especially because it reminds me of long car rides with my dad...Growing up I hated it because I didn’t understand but now it makes more sense,” said Ajetunmobi.
Phil Combatir, a freshman and Computer Science major from Manila shared why he decided to attend the Kwanzaa festival. “I’m here to celebrate and find out more about Kwanzaa. I learned about the tradition itself. I didn’t know what Kwanzaa was before but it’s nice to discover about it,” said Combatir.
Overall the event was a success. Guests and students were able to learn more about Kwanzaa while enjoying flavorful food and listening to beautiful music that reminded them of their heritage.