Kwanzaa Celebrations In Buffalo

December 23, 2011 Updated Dec 26, 2011 at 7:49 PM EDT

By WKBW Programming

December 23, 2011 Updated Dec 26, 2011 at 7:49 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) The week long celebration of "Kwanzaa" began Monday December 26th.

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States honoring universal African-American heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year. It features activities such as lighting a candle holder with seven candles, and culminates in a feast and gift-giving. It was created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966–1967.

Maulana Karenga is expected to visit Buffalo Kwanzaa celebrations in Western New York.

L. Nathan Hare talked about the traditions of Kwanzaa with Channel 7's Jon Summers on "AM/Buffalo."

Buffalo Kwanzaa 2011
All programs will be from 7:00 – 9:00pm unless otherwise noted

December 26, 2011 - Monday
Opening Ceremony
Buffalo Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts
450 Masten Ave. Corner of Ferry St.
Hosts: Sam Radford and Vonetta Rhodes
Arts & Culture – Tradition Keepers/ Community Dancers and Drummers
Dr. Maat Lewis & Jazzy Steppers/
NOI MGT Drill Team
Keynote Performance - Verbal Love Experience “Q” & Dream

December 27, 2011 - Tuesday
Kujichagulia-Self Determination
African American Cultural Center
350 Masten Ave.
Hosts: – Nia Hawkins and Brandon Gaines
Arts & Culture: Featuring the African
American Dance Troupe/ Elders Spoken Word Vibe
Speaker: Lorna Hill

December 28, 2011 - Wednesday
Ujima-Collective Work &Responsibility
Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library
1324 Jefferson Ave.
Hosts: Queen Akilah and Bro Akil
Arts & Culture- La Ballet Touba/ N’Dam Fall
Speaker – Queen Afua

December 29, 2011 - Thursday
Ujamaa-Cooperative Economics
Ujima Theatre 545 Elmwood Ave.
Hosts: Minister Daveed Muhammad and Sister Sabirah Muhammad
Arts & Culture – I AM Poetry Experience/ NOI FOI Drill Team
Presentation: Black Chamber Commerce
Speaker – Dr. Alim Muhammad

December 30, 2011 - Friday
Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Pkwy
Host: L. Nathan Hare & Karima Amin
Arts & Culture: Njozi Poets/ Daughters of Creative Sound
Speaker: Dr. Maulana Karenga

December 31, 2011 - Saturday
Gateway Longview Center
347 E. Ferry St.
Karamu Feast and Open Mic Night
5:00 – 8:00pm Gateway Longview Center
347 E. Ferry St.

Please feel free to bring a dish to share (no red meat, alcohol, pork)

Hosts: Sis Imani & Bro. Anthony Clyburn

Children/Youth Kwanzaa
African American Cultural Center
33 E. Ferry St.
11:00am – 2:00pm
Hosts: Sis Sabriyah /Bro. Jerome
Arts & Culture: Sis Maryam African Arts and Crafts
Speakers: Chris Reynolds/ Amon Rashidi

Kwanzaa Cultural Concert – 9pm – 2am
Gateway Longview – 347 E. Ferry St.
January 1, 2012 -Friday
Happy New Year! Spend the day at home with family and friends. Take this time to engage in quiet reflection, focus on what you have learned during the week of Kwanzaa, reflect on who you are, and maintain a quiet, humble, and calm attitude with regards to self and neighbors.

Here is more on Kwanzaa from
Maulana Karenga of the US Organization created Kwanzaa in 1966 as the first specifically African American holiday. Karenga said his goal was to "give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society."

The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning first fruits of the harvest.

The choice of Swahili, an East African language, reflects its status as a symbol of Pan-Africanism, especially in the 1960s.

Kwanzaa is a celebration that has its roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960s, and was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions and Nguzu Saba, the "seven principles of African Heritage" which Karenga said "is a communitarian African philosophy".

During the early years of Kwanzaa, Karenga said that it was meant to be an alternative to Christmas, that Jesus was psychotic, and that Christianity was a white religion that black people should shun.

However, as Kwanzaa gained mainstream adherents, Karenga altered his position so that practicing Christians would not be alienated, then stating in the 1997 Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture, "Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday."

Many Christian African Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa do so in addition to observing Christmas

In 2009, Maya Angelou narrated the award-winning documentary The Black Candle, the first film about Kwanzaa.

Principles and symbols:
A woman lights kinara candles on a table decorated with Kwanzaa symbolsKwanzaa celebrates what its founder called the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba (originally Nguzu Saba—the seven principles of African Heritage), which Karenga said "is a communitarian African philosophy," consisting of what Karenga called "the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world." These seven principles comprise Kawaida, a Swahili term for tradition and reason. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles, as follows:

Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves stand up.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Kwanzaa symbols include a decorative mat on which other symbols are placed, corn and other crops, a candle holder with seven candles, called a kinara, a communal cup for pouring libations, gifts, a poster of the seven principles, and a black, red, and green flag. The symbols were designed to convey the seven principles.

Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their households with objects of art; colorful African cloth such as kente, especially the wearing of kaftans by women; and fresh fruits that represent African idealism. It is customary to include children in Kwanzaa ceremonies and to give respect and gratitude to ancestors. Libations are shared, generally with a common chalice, Kikombe cha Umoja, passed around to all celebrants. Non-African Americans also celebrate Kwanzaa. The holiday greeting is "Joyous Kwanzaa".

A Kwanzaa ceremony may include drumming and musical selections, libations, a reading of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflection on the Pan-African colors, a discussion of the African principle of the day or a chapter in African history, a candle-lighting ritual, artistic performance, and, finally, a feast (karamu). The greeting for each day of Kwanzaa is Habari Gani? which is Swahili for "What's the News?"

At first, observers of Kwanzaa avoided the mixing of the holiday or its symbols, values, and practice with other holidays, as doing so would violate the principle of kujichagulia (self-determination) and thus violate the integrity of the holiday, which is partially intended as a reclamation of important African values. Today, many African American families celebrate Kwanzaa along with Christmas and New Year's.[citation needed] Frequently, both Christmas trees and kinaras, the traditional candle holder symbolic of African American roots, share space in Kwanzaa-celebrating households. For people who celebrate both holidays, Kwanzaa is an opportunity to incorporate elements of their particular ethnic heritage into holiday observances and celebrations of Christmas.

Cultural exhibitions include the Spirit of Kwanzaa, an annual celebration held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts featuring interpretive dance, African dance, song and poetry.

The first U.S. postage stamp commemorating Kwanzaa, issued in 1997The first Kwanzaa stamp was issued by the United States Postal Service on October 22, 1997, with artwork by Synthia Saint James. In 2004, a second Kwanzaa stamp, designed by Daniel Minter, was issued; this has seven figures in colorful robes symbolizing the seven principles.

The holiday has also spread to Canada, and is celebrated by Black Canadians in a similar fashion as in America.

In 2004, BIG Research conducted a marketing survey in the United States for the National Retail Foundation, which found that 1.6% of those surveyed planned to celebrate Kwanzaa. If generalized to the US population as a whole, this would imply that around 4.7 million people planned to celebrate Kwanzaa in that year. In a 2006 speech, Ron Karenga asserted that 28 million people celebrate Kwanzaa. He has always maintained it is celebrated all over the world. Lee D. Baker puts the number at 12 million. The African American Cultural Center claims 30 million.

According to Keith Mayes, the author of Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition, the popularity within the US has "leveled off" as the black power movement there has declined, and now between half and two million people celebrate Kwanzaa in the US, or between one and five percent of African Americans. Mayes adds that white institutions now celebrate it.

The holiday has also spread to Canada, and is celebrated by Black Canadians in a similar fashion as in America, and has also gained popularity in France, Great Britain, Jamaica and Brazil