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Poet Mwatabu Okantah speak at a Kwanzaa celebration held in the Mountainlair top top Thursday.

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Kristen Basham/The everyday Athenaeum

The words "ashay, ashay, ashay" echoed throughout the Mountainlair ballrooms Thursday evening.

"Ashay" meaning, "Be through us," invite ancestors to sign up with the celebration.

The West Virginia University center for Black culture & research welcomed the WVU ar to its annual Kwanzaa celebration.

Mwatabu S. Okantah, assistant professor in ~ Kent State University, offered as a guest performer and speaker because that the event.

Okantah resolved a common myth around Kwanzaa.

"Kwanzaa is not a "Black Christmas"; If friend celebrate Kwanzaa, you have the right to still memory Christmas," he said.

Okantah stated he looks forward to the unified the solemn event brings about within the community.

"As an artist, ns look at myself together an ambassador. Some people come every year and enjoy the celebrations," Okantah said. "Some people are new, and the opportunity to turn civilization on come this excites me, because society brings world together."

Kwanzaa was acquired from Swahili meaning, "the an initial roots," Okantah said.

Throughout his presentation, Okantah taken on the concept of culture.

Kwanzaa honors the seven principles of unity: self-determination, collective work and also responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

For every day that the celebration, an additional candle on the kinara is lit to honor one of the principles.

Traditionally, those celebrating Kwanzaa start each job by questioning one another, "Habari Ganni," i beg your pardon is Swahili for, "What"s the news?" that said.

In an answer to the question, Okantah then invited 7 volunteers to light the red, green and black candles relaxing on the table.

He referred to as for both genders and newcomers, creating a feeling of togetherness in the room.

"By watching, i learned what the an interpretation of the colors of the flags meant. Red was for the blood shed, black was for the blackness as soon as we pray, and green to be for the land civilization came to, and also that the real meaning behind diversity is comes together across ethnicity and also religion," claimed Ismael Chery, tv journalism student.

Afterward, Okantah joined through the Cavani string Quartet because that a cooperation performance.

Okantah stated he enjoys the possibility to come together every year for a unique performance.

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"Every year is special, since I operated with these ladies (of the Quartet) for plenty of years. What we have actually done today...combining music indigenous an afri Griot with music indigenous the european chamber, is a method of showing human being that we have the right to communicate throughout the cultural-ethnic divide," Okantah said. "Just looking in ~ the audience, ns am glad to view the diversity here."

Okantah said he to be thrilled for the opportunity to breakdown barriers, sign up with the WVU ar together and also celebrate the holiday.

"We need to gain away from the tyranny the color," he said. "We have the right to either come together in our wisdom or perish together in our foolishness."