Like in many societies, people celebrate traditions and holidays to recognize their culture and create unity.
Kwanzaa (from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1) was created in 1966 as a way for Black people to acknowledge the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. Kwanzaa gets its name from the Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza” and is rooted in first-fruit celebrations, which are found in African cultures both in ancient and modern times. The 2022 theme is “Kwanzaa, Culture and the Practice of Freedom: A Message and Model For Our Times.” Kwanzaa was not created as an alternative to religious beliefs or the observance of religious holidays, but it is celebrated by more than 30 million people of African descent worldwide.
The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba)
Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols and values that draw on the Swahili language, one of Africa’s most widely spoken languages. The central belief is that these values are universal truths and a universal way of life. These principles, also known as Nguzo Saba, are:
- Day 1 Umoja (Unity): Unity of the family, community, nation, and race
- Day 2 Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): Being responsible for your conduct and behavior
- Day 3 Ujima (Collective work and responsibility): Working to help one another and the community
- Day 4 Ujamaa (Cooperative economics): Working to build shops and businesses. Many who celebrate Kwanzaa will actively shop from Black businesses.
- Day 5 Nia (Purpose): Remembering and restoring African and African American cultures, customs, and history
- Day 6 Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it
- Day 7 Imani (Faith): Believing in people, families, leaders, teachers, and the righteousness of the African American struggle.
Each day, a candle is lit to highlight that day’s principle and bring meaning into the principles with various activities, such as reciting the sayings, reciting original poetry by Black authors, or sharing a meal of African-inspired foods.
The table is decorated with the symbols of Kwanzaa, such as the Kinara (Candle Holder), Mkeka (Mat), Muhindi (corn to represent the children), Mazao (fruit to represent the harvest), and Zawadi (gifts).
One might also see the colors of the Pan-African flag, red (the struggle), black (the people), and green (the future), represented throughout the space and in the clothing worn by participants. These colors were first proclaimed to be the colors for all people of the African diaspora by Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican-born Black nationalist and leader of the Pan-Africanism movement, which sought to unify and connect people of African descent worldwide.
Why Celebrate Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is a chance for families and communities to come together to share a feast, honor their ancestors, and celebrate African and African American culture. The principles are great learning lessons for children based on values instead of consumerism.
On Dec. 26 at 7 pm, Melaneyes Media will host an online event to help people celebrate Kwanzaa. Through Zoom, the community is invited to honor the first day of Kwanzaa as a family and community. Event organizers will light the candle, discuss Unity, tell stories, and play games. The event is hosted by Melaneyes Media’s Aundar Ma’t and Born Logic Allah. To learn more, visit (MelaneyesMedia.com/Kwanzaa).
Artpace: Curator Talk
Join Artpace Thursday, Dec. 15 at 6 pm for a curator talk with Missla Libsekal, who will share her curatorial practice, followed by a Q&A. Doors open at 5:30 pm, and the free talk will begin at 6 pm.
Libsekal is Artpace’s fall 2023 International Artist in Residency Guest Curator and is based in Vancouver, Canada.
Her practice focuses on interdisciplinary research and artistic practice from a Pan-African perspective. She says on her website that a watershed moment in her journey towards art and practice was a visit to her ancestral home of Asmara, Eritrea (a country in the Horn of Africa), in 2004.
She’s also the founder of Another Africa, a digital platform that operated from 2010 – 2016, and featured writing about African and Afro-Diasporic experiences and imaginaries. Her writings have been published in The Africa Report, The Guardian, Art Africa, SAVVY art journal, and more.
In 2017, Libsekal curated the second edition of the Art x Lagos, Nigeria’s first international art fair. In an interview with Nataal magazine, she described her approach to the curated projects stating, “I was thinking about the rupture of histories within the African context and how we address them—that felt critical to use as a foundation. I also wanted to think about materiality and expand on how contemporary art is understood and defined.”
Artpace San Antonio is a nonprofit residency program that supports Texas, national, and international artists in creating new art. As a catalyst for artistic expression, it engages local communities with global art practices and experiences. To learn more about the event and get tickets, visit (Artpace.org).
African Children’s Choir Visiting Nearby Churches in 2023
International nonprofit organization Music for Life announces the 2023 U.S. African Children’s Choir Tour. The tour will include 50+ stops across the country, sure to melt the hearts of audiences with their performance of popular children’s music, traditional spiritual songs and African cultural pieces.
The 2023 tour is much more than a concert. The African Children’s Choir is composed of African children, aged 10 to 12 years old, all who come from vulnerable backgrounds and have faced hardship and lack of education. However, they represent the potential of the African child to become leaders for a better future.
“The African Children’s Choir proves just how powerful music can be,” says Tina Sipp, Choir Manager for the African Children’s Choir. “These concerts provide hope and encouragement, not just to our audiences, but to the children whose lives are forever changed by their experiences with the Choir.”
The 2023 tour will kick off on Sunday, January 15, 2023, in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and will make stops in 16 different states before concluding on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, in Pinehurst, NC. For a full list of tour stops, visit https://africanchildrenschoir.com/tour-dates/.
Zindzi Mandela Dead at 59
The Nelson Mandela Foundation confirmed the death of the Zindzi Mandela, South Africa’s Ambassador to Denmark and daughter of anti-apartheid icons Nelson and Winnie Mandela. The following statement was released:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Mama Zindzi Mandela, youngest daughter of the late ANC Stalwarts Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She is survived by her children and grandchildren.” (https://www.nelsonmandela.org/news/entry/statement-from-the-mandela-family-on-the-passing-of-zindzi-mandela)
Zindzi was 59.
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