Kuumba (v., Swahili): to create.
The Swahili word "kuumba," meaning “to create," embodies the choir's mission: to express the creativity and spirituality of black people through song and other art forms such as dance, poetry and spoken word. The Kuumba Singers explore and share the rich musical culture of black people through spirituals, gospel, African folk songs, and contemporary music.
Black music is a manifestation of the black spirit - it speaks to our every emotion. Moreover, black music helps sustain and direct our culture. It reminds us of our past situation in this country, makes us mindful of the present, and gives us hope and guidance for the future.
Over 50 years ago in 1970, there was no space like Kuumba on Harvard’s campus. Created to address the needs of students during a tumultuous and contentious time, Kuumba is now the oldest Black organization on Harvard’s campus. For over 50 years, we have lifted our voices together in song, building an unbreakable family dedicated to celebrating who we are and where we come from.
Kuumba is a Swahili word that means “to create,” and on account of our mission to celebrate Black creativity and spirituality, we take that to mean making the most out of what we have and leaving every space our presence fills better than we found it. We carry this spirit with us wherever we go, and this vision motivates our performances, community initiatives, and the relationships we foster with those around us. We believe that Black art is both healing and restorative—reminding us of our past, grounding us in our present, and guiding us toward the future.
This past year was unprecedented, to say the least. The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe, devastating one too many countries, one too many families, one too many livelihoods. Everyone was forced to adjust and adapt to new normals. Kuumba was no exception, and yet despite the challenges this past year brought, Kuumba braved every obstacle and fostered joy during difficult times. We continued to meet every Tuesday and Thursday where instead of coming together in the SOCH penthouse, members past and present set up their computers, phones, and tablets to Zoom in every week from all corners of the world. We told stories, played games, shared meals, practiced music, and reminded one another that even though we were physically a part, no one was ever alone.
After a year filled with countless trials and tribulations, we are dedicated more than ever to our mission and to rebuilding the magic that is Kuumba in-person. While we are uncertain what this year may bring, we know for certain that Kuumba can brave any storm, cross any river, and climb any mountain. This last year was incredible for reconnecting with alumni and welcoming new members, and we aspire to build on the momentum from this year, taking Kuumba to new heights. Please feel free to come to any and all of the events publicized on this website as well as our Facebook (@TheKuumbaSingers) and Instagram (@kuumbasingers) pages.
We invite anyone and everyone to join us on this journey as we grow together, furthering our mission of leaving spaces better than we found them and honoring our history through artistic expression, community engagement, and social activism on Harvard’s campus and beyond.
Adede Appah-Sampong and Perrin Price
2021-2022 President and Vice-President
May 5-7, 2023: Half Century Celebration of the Kuumba Singers