The 15th annual Kuumba Day was held Saturday, Dec. 7. Kuumba, one of the seven principals of Kwanzaa, means “creativity” in Swahili, and “to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.” The annual school-wide celebration is an Elysian tradition and was capped off by an African dance performance by the school’s third graders.
“We are so proud of our third graders for all their hard work,” commented Elysian Director Harry Laub Ph. D. “The students have been practicing their dance since September and in coordination with the dance residency, they also learn about the struggles of the African people and the life of the great Dr. Mandela. The students were sad to learn of his passing but as they said during the performance, ‘never, never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another… let freedom reign.’ ”
The annual Kuumba Day celebration is the culmination of a three month African Dance Residency led by Yah'Ya Kamate of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Yah'Ya is a native of the Ivory Coast and a former member of the National Ballet of the Ivory Coast who came to the United States in 1994 to tour and to honor his country. In conjunction with the dance residency, the third grade students learn about the life of Nelson Mandela and the principles he lived by. The annual celebration took on more meaning this year with the recent passing of Dr. Mandela. Throughout the program, the students spoke about his life, his ideals and accomplishments, intermixed by dance to the beat of djembe drums.
Elysian Charter School is a kindergarten through 8th grade school located in Hoboken. It was founded by the Mile Square community 17 years ago based on the precepts of progressive education. For more information please contact Elysian Charter School at firstname.lastname@example.org.