This year will mark the 50th annual celebration of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa was developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga, who was a professor of Black studies at California State University, Long Beach in 1966. He wanted a national holiday African-Americans could call their own. So he went to different countries in Africa to help him research, pay tribute and emulate already established holidays. The notion behind Kwanzaa is for African-Americans to celebrate their ancestors, history and cultural values. And instead of having Kwanzaa being a day, he made into a weeklong celebration. Kwanzaa officially starts December 26 and ends January 1.
Each day represents a different principle.
There are seven days of Kwanzaa. The first day is Umoja. This day represents the unity our community and family need to uphold each other. The second day is Kujichagulia. Kujichagulia means self-determination. The decisions that we make should be the best interest for our families and community. The third day is Ujima. This day we must work with one another and fulfill our responsibilities. The fourth day is Ujamaa. Ujamaa represents the day that we must support one another. The fifth day is Nia. Nia represents the significance of knowing our personal purpose. The sixth day is Kuumba. This day represents creativity. And the last day is Imani. This day represents having faith within ourselves.
These principles are believed to be what has helped countries in Africa prosper for all of these centuries. This national holiday is very popular in Pan-African households worldwide. But this holiday can be celebrated in numerous ways. Some families believe that they should enjoy this holiday with family members and loved ones. Others go to their local community Kwanzaa events. Brooklyn’s Kwanzaa Kollective is hosting a community Kwanzaa celebration at MS 35, which is located at 272 McDonald St., between Marcus Garvey and Lewis avenues in Brooklyn, Thursday, Dec. 29. There will be cultural presentations and vendors. This family friendly event will take place from noon to 9 p.m. Call 718-778- 0009 ext. 17 for information.
Manhattan’s own African Burial Ground will be hosting a Kwanzaa celebration along with the African Burial Ground 25th anniversary of rediscovery and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Starting Tuesday, Dec. 27, the African Burial Ground invites families to come and celebrate these anniversaries. The event will feature performances by singers, poets and drummers. The event is free and open to the public. The African Burial Ground celebration ends Friday, Dec. 30th. The four-day commemoration will be taking place on the first floor of 290 Broadway in Lower Manhattan. For more information about the Burial Ground or the Kwanzaa celebration please visit www.nps.gov/afbg, www.twitter.com/AFBurialGrndNPS or www.facebook.com/AfricanBurial Ground, or call 212-637-2019.