Many people say that music speaks a universal language with a common purpose. The Muntu Kuntu Energy Ensemble believes that the purpose of their music is to unite.

This will be one of their goals when the musical ensemble performs at the Kwanzaa celebration hosted by the Center for Black Culture and Research on Dec. 3 from 7-9 p.m. in the Mountainlair Blue Ballroom.

“Kwanzaa is a uniquely African-American holiday,” said Todd McFadden, associate director of the Center for Black Culture and Research. “It is not African but it was created with an understanding that African-Americans are African and uses elements of our shared African culture as the foundation for ceremony and celebration.

“Everyone in the WVU community is welcome to share in that celebration,” he said.

The Kwanzaa ceremony will be lead by Mwatabu Okantah, celebrated author, poet, teacher and musician. He has received several honors including being named in the fifth edition of Who’s Who among America’s Teachers and the1999 Kent State University Teaching Council Outstanding Teaching Award.

The Muntu Kuntu Energy Ensemble, lead by Okantah, will perform during the ceremony. Their sound, entrenched in African tradition and culture, carries the notes of several music genres including gospel, jazz, blues and reggae. Their performances are based on the traditional Kwanzaa ritual but are deeply rooted in the notions of revival and healing.

A free buffet dinner will be available to the audience and participants following the ceremony. The Kwanzaa celebration is free and open to the public.

Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday honoring African heritage and culture celebrated in the United States from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 each year. It was created by Ron Karenga, and was first celebrated in December of 1966.

For more information on WVU’s Center for Black Culture and Research, visit



CONTACT: Penny Kennedy, Center for Black Culture and Research