SACRAMENTO – It’s been nearly 50 years since activist Maulana Karenga created the Kwanzaa holiday to preserve and promote African American culture and today, we see Ujamaa grocery stores that promote “buying Black,” local medical students provide needed health care service at an Imani Clinic and we flock to movies starring an African American actress named Nia.
Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26-January 1; the name is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. In ancient Africa, first fruit celebrations were a time when members of a community got together to celebrate the success of the harvest, thank the ancestors for teaching them how to farm and provide for themselves and to recommit themselves to working together for future success.
Kwanzaa is structured by the Nguzo Saba, or Seven Principles, based on African values.
Each day of the weeklong observance is represented by a different principle, meant to reinforce those values and reinvigorate African Americans to live by them throughout the entire year.
The principles are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).
The theme of this year’s international observance is “Kwanzaa, Us and the Wellbeing of the World: A Courageous Questioning.” In it’s 46th year, Kwanzaa is celebrated across the globe. A number of local celebrations have also been scheduled. The following is a brief list of area Kwanzaa observances.
Wednesday, December 26, 6:00-9:00 p.m.— In the spirit of Umojo or unity, the first day of Kwanzaa is kicked off as the Black United Fund of Sacramento Valley, The Brickhouse Art Gallery & Arts Complex, The Sacramento Chapter of All of Us Or None, and the Sacramento Area Black Caucus join together to present a celebration at the Brickhouse Gallery, located at 2837 36th Street. For more information, call (916) 484-3750.
Thursday, December 27, 5:00-8:00 p.m. — A Youth Kwanzaa Celebration is set to be held at the Our World Cultural Center, located at 2251 Florin Road, Suite 20. All youths and families are invited to attend. For more information, call (916) 706-2838.
Thursday, December 27, 6:00-9:00 p.m.— Umoja Productions presents its Children’s Kwanzaa program at The Roberts Family Development Center, located at 766 Darina Avenue. For more information, call (916) 529-2804.
Friday, December 28, 2:00 p.m.— The Crocker Art Museum presents its Family Kwanzaa Concert, “Big Dreams, Small Shoulders.” The program is a special family-friendly performance of Crocker artist-in-residence Deborah Pittman’s original multi-media performance piece inspired by Rockwell’s iconic The Problem We All Live With. Event is free for members, $5 for nonmembers and $3 for college students and youth ages 17 and under. Advance registration is required. Call (916) 808-7000 for more information.
Friday December 28, 3:00-5:00 p.m.— The Fenix Drum & Dance Company teams up with the Del Paso Heights Library for a Family Kwanzaa presentation. The library is located at 920 Grand Avenue. For more information, call (916) 566-2144.
Saturday, December 29, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.—Wo’se Community Church and Sojourner Truth Multicultural Museum host an Ujamaa celebration at the Brickhouse Art Gallery & Arts Complex, 2837 36th Street. For more information, call (916) 476-6640.
Sunday, December 30, 4:00 -7:00 p.m.— The Center for Spiritual Awareness celebrates Nia at 1275 Starboard Drive in West Sacramento. For more information, call (916) 217-6042.
Sunday, December 30, 6:00 p.m.—The Imani Community United Church of Christ hosts its annual Kwanzaa dinner and celebration. The Nia festivities will be held inside the Terrace Room. The church is located at 2100 J Street. For more information, call (916) 764-8072.
Monday, December 31, 12 noon— Black Agriculture co-hosts a free community celebration for Kuumba and the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at the State Capitol. Includes drumming on the West Steps and other activities in Room 126. Enjoy cultural fashions, a musical Kwanzaa play, an interfaith, intercultural, intergenerational Umoja circle and youth performances. For more information, call (916) 997-2451.
Monday, December 31, 1:00-4:00 p.m.— The Kuumba Collective Art Gallery invites the community to celebrate with local African American artists. The program will be held at the gallery, located at 1001 Del Paso Blvd #1. For more information, call (916) 613-0099.
Tuesday, January 1, 1:00-5:00 p.m.— Fenix Drum & Dance hosts an Imani celebration at its Fenix Dance Studio, located at 2110 Del Paso Boulevard. For more information, call (916) 205-3970.
With the exception of the event at the Crocker Art Museum, all celebrations are free of charge. In the tradition of Kwanzaa, there will be a feast, or Karamu, at many of these community events, with participants being asked to bring vegetarian and vegan friendly dishes. The event at the Crocker Art Museum does not include a potluck.