Baltimore Kwanzaa Celebration Highlights Traditions New And Old | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Baltimore Kwanzaa Celebration Highlights Traditions New And Old

Play associated audio
The Sankofna Dance Theater performs some traditional African drum beats.
Reginald F. Lewis Museum
The Sankofna Dance Theater performs some traditional African drum beats.

People came together in Baltimore Saturday to celebrate and learn about Kwanzaa. The celebration at Baltimore's Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture included discussion, storytelling, a children's workshop, dance and music.

People have celebrated the African American and Pan-African holiday Kwanzaa for more than 40 years. Maulana Karenga is professor and chair of Africana Studies at California State University. He says there are a few reasons why he created Kwanzaa back in 1966.

"Part of our liberation struggle in the 60s was to return to our culture, to speak our own special culture too, and make our own unique contribution to how this society is reconceived and reconstructed," Karenga says. "Second, I created Kwanzaa to give us a time when we as African people all over the world could come together, reaffirm the bonds between us and meditate on the awesome meaning of being African in the world and to celebrate ourselves in beautiful, dignity-affirming and life-enhancing way."

He says he created Kwanzaa in order to introduce and reaffirm seven values that stress and strengthen family, community and culture.

A big part of the celebration is also musical. Professional beatboxer and vocal percussionist Shodekeh, performed alongside drummers from Sankofa Dance Theater.

Shodekeh says that, in a way, practitioners of West African drumming are the keepers of an older tradition. But even though beatboxing is a newer mode of expression, he says vocal percussion has always existed in some form throughout human history and music. He says the musical styles work really well together.

"Sometimes the echoes of the sounds that emit from the voice into the microphone bounces back, hits the floor, travels through the hollow entry point of the djembe, and then sometimes it'll come through the head of the djembe and this is a really beautiful feedback loop sometimes that happens," Shodekeh says.

On Wednesday, the last day of Kwanzaa, practitioners will light all seven candles and meditate on the principle of Imani, Swahili for faith.

NPR

The Other Rock History

What makes an essential rock song? Musicologist Greil Marcus argues that it's not the stature of the performer, but the degree to which a song tells the story of rock 'n' roll itself.
NPR

Can Oxfam Nudge Big Food Companies To Do Right?

Oxfam is scoring the 10 biggest food companies on a scale of 1 to 10 on a host of issues, from worker rights to climate change. But will promises translate into concrete changes?
NPR

Rick Perry's Legal Trouble: The Line Between Influence And Coercion

The Texas governor is charged with abuse of office and coercing a public official, but he claims he was just doing what governors do: Vetoing a budget item.
NPR

New GoPro Camera Harness Captures Dog's-Eye View

This past week, the camera maker GoPro unveiled the Fetch harness, which allows people to attach the durable cameras to their dogs. The company was inspired by some DIY efforts at pet videography.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.