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Illinois University Celebrates Kwanzaa Early

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Dr. Maulana Karenga née Ron Everett (L)

Kwanzaa gets an early start in East St. Louis

Dec. 20 2006

EAST ST. LOUIS — Its official start was still a week away, but the sound of traditional African drums Tuesday night gave proof that for some, Kwanzaa had already started.

With a rousing performance, about seven members of Sunshine Lee and the Community Performance Ensemble kicked off the Eugene B. Redmond Writing Club’s 20th annual Kwanzaa celebration at the East St. Louis campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Since 1986, members of the group have been among the 18 million Americans every year who take part in the holiday, which focuses on traditional African culture and the contributions made by African-Americans.

"This is an important event because it’s totally ours, and it comes out of the wellspring of our experiences," said Darlene Roy, the writing club’s president. "In that way, it can be a unifying experience."

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Ron Karenga, an author and political activist. The 1960s were a time of cultural revolution in which many African-Americans embraced their heritage.

The holiday, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1., takes its name from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which means "first fruits." As such, the celebration has been rooted in the first harvest celebrations practiced in African cultures.

Although it occurs around Christmas, it is not meant as competition.

"There is nothing political or religious about it," said Eugene Redmond, namesake of the writing club and a professor at SIUE. "Kwanzaa is not set up to clash with other holiday celebrations, it is set up to bring attention to the importance and relevance of our culture."

Redmond said this time of year was chosen in an effort to turn attention away from materialism and toward love.

"And the hope is it will spill over to other parts of the year," Redmond said. "I try to live it year-round."

These people don’t even know the story behind their own bogus "holiday":

Kwanzaa is not set up to clash with other holiday celebrations…

Of course it was. As Mr. Karenga explains in his 1977 book "Kwanzaa: Origin, Concepts, Practice":

Kwanzaa is not an imitation, but an alternative, in fact, an oppositional alternative to the spookism, mysticism and non-earth based practices which plague us as a people and encourage our withdrawal from social life rather than our bold confrontation with it…

The holiday ‘was chosen to give a Black alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society…

But our one party media feels compelled to lie about it.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, December 20th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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