This marks the 53rd annual celebration of the self-determined, culturally-grounded and family and community focused holiday, Kwanzaa. Celebrated by millions of people throughout the world African community, Kwanzaa is a seven-day (December 26-January 1) pan-African and African American holiday created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies, Cal State University, Long Beach and executive director of the African American Cultural Center (Us). It is a celebration of family, community and culture and this year’s theme is “Living Kwanzaa and the Seven Principles: An All-Seasons Celebration and Practicing of the Good.” The theme is also the title of the Annual Founder’s Kwanzaa Message to be given by Dr. Karenga on Sunday, December 22, 3:00pm at the African American Cultural Center (Us), 3018 West 48th Street, Los Angeles.
Kwanzaa Week Celebrations begin on Kwanzaa’s first day with the Umoja (Unity) Candle Lighting Ceremony and Celebration, 3:00pm, Thursday, December 26th at the African American Cultural Center (Us). The Umoja celebration is a coming together of the people to renew and reinforce the bonds of mutual care, concern and commitment in the community. The program will include poetry, music, and wishes for the New Year from community leaders and organizations to mark the beginning of Kwanzaa. The event’s hosts and organizers, the Kwanzaa Ujima Collective, invite the community to donate warm clothing and blankets for those in need.
The Kwanzaa Ujima Collective is comprised of a broad spectrum of community organizations and institutions dedicated to the principle and practice of unity, and sharing the central Kwanzaa message of celebrating family, community and culture. It includes: the African American Cultural Center (Us); the Afiba Center; Christ Liberation Ministries; Holman United Methodist Church; KRST Unity Center of Afrikan Spiritual Science; the Limbiko Tembo School of African American Culture; the Los Angeles Sentinel (media sponsor); the Organization Us; the SCLC/LA, the Umoja Center, and Zambezi Bazaar. Each of these will also have specific activities.
On the third day of Kwanzaa, Saturday, December 28th, Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), the Limbiko Tembo School of African American Culture will hold its Annual Children’s Kwanzaa Celebration. It will include drumming, dancing, poetry, performances, readings and art activities for children 3-13 years old.
On Kwanzaa’s sixth day, Kuumba (Creativity) Day, the African American Cultural Center (Us) will hold its Annual Kwanzaa Karamu (African feast). The Karamu is a festive Evening in Africa with libation, fine African food, dance, drumming, music and poetry. Highlights of the evening are the Annual Founder’s statement and cultural narratives by Dr. Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanzaa, elders’ wisdom, performances and the community “Lifting up the Light that Lasts”, Kwanzaa Candle Lighting Ceremony (call for reservations).
Each year Kwanzaa’s uniqueness, meaning and value to African people are reaffirmed in its reach around the world, and in their embrace of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa in the way they live their lives. These principles are in Swahili and English: Umoja (Unity); Kujichagulia (Self-Determination); Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility); Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics); Nia (Purpose); Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). And these principles form the core value orientation of the holiday directed toward sharing the good and repairing and renewing the world. “Indeed,” Dr. Karenga said, “the Nguzo Saba offer us a foundation and framework to address issues of our time through both principles and practice . . . and a means of prefiguring in our daily lives and practices the good world we all want and deserve to live in, and it requires constant reflection on and practicing of the Nguzo Saba.”
To RSVP for the Karamu or to obtain information on Kwanzaa, Kwanzaa Week events and the Kwanzaa Ujima Collective, please call the African American Cultural Center (Us), the founding institution and international headquarters of Kwanzaa, at (323) 299-6124 or visit www.OfficialKwanzaaWebsite.org