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City Kwanzaa Celebration to promote awareness of holiday

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 | 6:21 p.m. CST; updated 1:05 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 1, 2010

COLUMBIA — Camren Cross said he thinks the seven principles of Kwanzaa can help bring a community together. 

“It pushes unity and self-responsibility and presents a very solid approach to the community,” he said. 

For this reason, Cross, recreation supervisor for Columbia Parks and Recreation, said he thinks it is important to expose the entire Columbia community to the holiday, which focuses on family and culture in the African community.

The public has the opportunity to learn more about Kwanzaa this Saturday as Parks and Recreation hosts the annual City Kwanzaa Celebration at Douglass High School.

The department hosts the event several weeks ahead of the actual holiday, which starts on Dec. 26 and runs to Jan. 1, to help generate interest in the celebration.

“Our purpose is to have a community type of Kwanzaa program so people can see how the celebration is done, so they can add it to their holiday if they want,” Bill Thompson, a recreation specialist with the city, said.

During the holiday, participants are asked to reflect about the world and their individual lives, as well as recommit themselves to the Nguzo Saba,, or the Seven Principles. According to the Official Kwanzaa Website, these are:

  • Umoja, or unity
  • Kujichagulia, or self-determination
  • Ujima, or collective work and responsibility
  • Ujamaa, or cooperative economics
  • Nia, or purpose
  • Kuumba, or creativity
  • Imani, or faith

Each night of the holiday, families light one of the seven candles of the Kinara, a candle holder used in the celebration. Each candle represents one of the principles. 

The city celebration features a program that explains the traditions of Kwanzaa, which was started in 1966. The event will also recognize members of the Columbia community who represent the principles of Kwanzaa, Thompson said. 

Additionally, the program asks participants to appreciate the contributions of elder members in the community.

“I think it's important to recognize our elders,” said Wynna Faye Elbert, co-host of the radio show “Straight Talk” on KOPN/89.5 FM and a regular participant in the event. “There’s a certain part of the family that you miss today.” 

Elbert said that when she was younger, many families had extended family members such as aunts, uncles and grandparents living with them, but today many of these relatives live in separate locations. 

“Straight Talk” will broadcast live from the event that day.

Through the event, Thompson hopes to raise awareness of and encourage more people to participate in what many consider an African-American holiday. 

“The principles aren’t just African-American,” he said. “The principles apply to us all.”


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Comments

Louis Schneebaum November 30, 2010 | 10:01 p.m.

I know a white guy who was born in Morocco. African-American? What about black people from places other than Africa? African-Americans just because they're black? Racism foul.

(Report Comment)
Collin Stringer November 30, 2010 | 11:34 p.m.

Research the origins of Thanksgiving. For a stark contrast, research the origins of Kwanzaa. Read about Maulana Karenga, the one from whose mind this holiday was created.

(Report Comment)

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