Kwanzaa brings unity to students

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Ivory Williams, professional story teller and speaker as well as president of Efficacy Detroit, tells stories to students at an early Kwanzaa celebration yesterday evening. His stories place a heavy importance on listening skills and communication. Willi

Credit: John Proppe

Students came together to celebrate Kwanzaa last night in Oscar Ritchie Hall.

The Black Graduate Student Association organized a Kwanzaa celebration with support from the Pan-African Faculty and Staff Association.

The evening began with a video presentation explaining the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba in Swahili.

The presentation was followed by storyteller Ivory Williams.

Williams has a background in marketing and education and he now works full time as a speaker and storyteller. He spoke about the importance of listening and communication, illustrating his points with humorous stories.

Williams encouraged audience participation. Two children went on-stage and acted out a story.

“Storytelling is an effective way of communicating with students,” he said.

Jera Oliver, graduate student in economics and member of Black Graduate Student Association, said, “(Kwanzaa) is not a religion, it’s not a faith. It’s more of principles of living. It promotes community, togetherness.”

Kwanzaa is celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, with the lighting of one candle of the Kinara, or the candle holder, each day for each of the seven principles.

Oliver has been going to Kwanzaa events for most of her life.

Jessie Guinn, graduate student in biological sciences, echoed Oliver.

“A lot of people have misconceptions that it’s a religious thing and its only for African-Americans,” she said.

Guinn said Kwanzaa does involve gift giving, but the gift should not be something like toys or electronics. It could have special meaning or educational value.

Christopher Smith, graduate student in public administration and programming chair of Black Graduate Students association, said, “When Kwanzaa was created, it caught on in several different countries, such as England and Africa.”

Contact news corespondent Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].