Kwanzaa Spirit to Be Kindled

Although the essence of PA’s celebration is the same as traditional Kwanzaa, PA has made Kwanzaa its own. Instead of just remembering and honoring the seven principles of Kwanzaa, the organizers of the event, Instructor in Music William Thomas and Terrance Rubin ’05, plan to honor a person who personifies each value. Previous recipients of these honors include Oprah Winfrey, Harriet Tubman and the Massachusetts 54th regiment. Despite its previous cancellation because of the pre-finals snowstorm, Phillips Academy’s celebration of Kwanzaa will commence this Saturday, January 10, in the Cochran Chapel at 7:30 p.m. Traditionally Kwanzaa is a celebration of African culture lasting from December 26 to January 1. Through song, dance, and storytelling, celebrants honor seven principals: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). This year Mary Mercy Parkinson, a designer based in Andover, will be honored for her creativity in the creation of traditional African costumes and ability to market and sell her costumes. The audience will even be treated to a mini fashion show that will include examples of colorful African attire. Another honoree, James Rogers, an instructor in history who will retire at the end of this year, has been selected for his contributions to the school in his many roles as teacher, advisor, and leader in the community. Coincidently, one of Rogers many contributions was his part in starting The Sojourner Truth Scholarship, which was established in 1994 by the faculty of color and is awarded each year to African American students. In fact, the PA Kwanzaa ceremony began as a fundraiser for the scholarship, which continues to be supported by donations from the Kwanzaa celebration. The Gospel Choir, directed by Hobert Yates and Thomas, plans to add its twist to the occasion with some rousing music. They hope to get everyone out of their seats to clap along with the fast paced song, “Let’s get excited,” and to wow the audience with the different beats of “We’ve Come this Far by Faith.” Hobert Yates, who serves not only as co-director of the Gospel Choir, but also as its accompanist, promises to draw the audience in with his unannounced selections for the “Musical Meditation,” which he played at last year’s Kwanzaa ceremony. Remember to come out this Saturday, January 10, to have some fun and celebrate PA’s version of the festival of harvest, thanksgiving and community.