Students of WE WIN Institute created several Nguzo Saba murals during the recent Griot Invasion at Bethune Park.
The Nguzo Saba are the seven principles of Kwanzaa – umoja, which means unity, kujichagulia, which means self-determination, ujima, which means collective work and responsibility, ujamaa, which cooperative economics, nia, which means purpose, kuumba, which means creativity, and imani, which means faith.
Marilyn Lindstrom worked with youth throughout the summer to create the seven murals. Lindstrom has directed and created hundreds of community created public works of art since 1971. She founded Wall Painting Artist, which was a community mural painting group with other local Minnesota muralists including Ta-Coumba Aiken.
Lindstrom said painting on walls can be traced to the beginning of known human history. According to Lindstrom, in South Africa, the Ndebele people began painting on walls in the mid-18th century.
“These paintings were often done by the women (and) expressive symbols were used for communication of continuity and cultural resistance to their circumstances of living under a repressive system,” said Lindstrom. “The vibrant symbols and expressions portray communications of personal prayers, self- identification, values, and emotions. The women of the Ndebele people were often the tradition carriers and the main developer of the wall paintings of their homes. The tradition and style is passed down in families from generation to generation.
Lindstrom said the women who made them could be considered the griots of their community.
“Our contemporary murals in the African-American communities of the U.S. have in part, grown out of the African wall paintings of cultural resistance and traditional symbolic visual communication of the Ndebele people,” said Lindstrom.