Celebrate Kwanzaa on Saturday
Raise your voices, light the candles, offer the daily greeting "Habari Gani," (Swahili for "What's the news") and celebrate Kwanzaa at the Martha's Vineyard chapter of NAACP's annual festivities on Saturday, Dec. 26. Family and friends will gather at the Methodist Parish Hall in the Oak Bluffs Campground for an afternoon of song, discussion, history, food, and celebration.
Founded in 1966 by Maulana Karenga (Ron Everett), an African-American activist and director of the Black Studies department at the California State University, Kwanzaa is a week-long cultural festival that stems from the 1960s civil rights era. Drawn from various elements of the first harvest celebrations in Africa, it provides African-Americans the opportunity to celebrate themselves and their African-based history, traditions, and humanist principles. The holiday, which includes reflection and meditative observance, extends for seven days from December 26 to January 1, and focuses on African culture as well as individual and family values.
Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols, each representing values of African culture. They include candles and symbols of harvest. The name comes from the Swahili phrase meaning "first fruits." An additional "a" was added to give the name seven letters, one for each of the seven principles celebrated: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
The holiday, which does not involve religious observance, is in part intended as a reclamation of important African values. Many African-American families view Kwanzaa as the chance to incorporate their cultural traditions into holiday observances and celebrations during the Christmas season. They celebrate Kwanzaa by decorating their homes with colorful African fabrics and art, lighting candles, playing music, and feasting. Children are an important part of the Kwanzaa ceremonies, and on Saturday, there will be arts and crafts for the children. Jennifer Watkins will lead discussions, stories from African history will be shared, candles lit, and songs sung. Guests are being asked to bring a potluck dish (or donate $5). For more information, call Carrie Tankard, 508-693-2797.
On Wednesday, Dec. 30, at 10:30 am, Kwanzaa will be observed at the Oak Bluffs Library's toddler and preschool story time.