Kwanzaa celebrations begin - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Kwanzaa celebrations begin

December 27, 2005

Albany-- Christmas has come and gone but another celebration is just beginning. Kwanzaa, which is Swahili for "first fruits" begins right after Christmas. It's celebrated by millions of African-Americans and Africans all over the world.

The continuous drumbeat of the holiday known as Kwanzaa has been beating for nearly four decades. "It started back in 1966 by Dr. Karenga who came upon recognizing Kwanzaa should be a celebration after Christmas," says Keta Allen.

Keta Allen has celebrated Kwanzaa for just as long as it's been around. "The moment that Kwanzaa was first introduced to me, we took and started with the drumming. We walked the streets with banners," says Allen. He says the sights and sounds of Kwanzaa are barely visible or audible here in South Georgia.

"There is another side that hasn't spoken out and that is the silent side and that is the African American side," says Allen. Allen says many including African-Americans don't know but should know about the holiday. "The first step of recognizing the importance of Kwanzaa historically is recognizing the contributions of blacks in politics, culture, and land," says Allen.

Recognition and remembrance both play a big part in Kwanzaa along with lighting candles. "The colors of these candles represent the blood that was shed. The color black represents the ethnicity of the people," says Allen. The green candle represents the significance and value of having land.

The seven candles also represent seven principles: Umoja which means Unity, Kujichagulia which means Self-Determination, Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility, Ujamaa which means Cooperative Economics, Nia which stands for Purpose, Kuumba which means Creativity and Imani which means Faith. "Each day that candle is lit in honor of recognizing the principle that should be carried out," says Allen.

Allen says for the principles to be carried out, it takes commitment and responsibility. "The Kwanzaa principle, once it's embraced and carried out, it deems good value, it deems good social thought," says Allen. He says it's not a religious holiday but a cultural one and it's growing nationwide.

"More and more people are gathering and exposing their minds to Kwanzaa every year. This is a growing phenomenon," says Allen. But that phenomenon needs more growth in South Georgia from old and young generations to continue the the celebration of family, community and culture.

"Lift the veils of the doubts and bring the glorious pride of Kwanzaa and shine it with pride and dignity," says Allen. With that, the beat of the drum will continue.

Kwanzaa is celebrated every year beginning on the day after Christmas through New Year's Day.

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