Unity marks the beginning of Kwanzaa - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Unity marks the beginning of Kwanzaa

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December 26, 2006

Albany--  Tuesday marked the beginning of a four-decade old tradition in the African-American community. Kwanzaa is built on the foundation of seven principles, all meant to help the community reflect on ancestry and culture.  

The beat of the drum is being heard all over the world. But it's a beat that began decades ago.

"Kwanzaa generally is the honoring of the seven principles that were initiated in the mid 1960's by Dr. Karenga," said Keta Allen. The celebration of Kwanzaa focuses on seven principles. 

The first is Umoja meaning unity followed by Self-Determination, Collective work and responsibility, Collective Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. Keta Allen says the principles of Kwanzaa have a link to African ancestry but still apply today.

"The principles apply that there's a wholesome commitment of the community to confide in the recognition of those principle values," said Allen. Those values are represented with the lighting of seven candles.

"Red signifies the blood of the struggles of solidarity and unilateral of a system that defines the African's destiny, his own fate," said Allen. The one black candle stands for the ethnicity and the green candles represent the land. However, Allen says the lighting of candles stands for something even bigger.

"It is a way of life in the manner in which we ought to adhere to and define for the advancement of race," said Allen. But he feels that advancement can't take place unless the celebration continues to be embraced by people and not seen as an alternative religion.

"We're not here to put one against the other. We're just simply saying there's an additional compliment," said Allen. The compliment does continue to grow.

"Kwanzaa is a growing recognition and also it's universal, it is worldwide," said Allen. The worldwide celebration and the beats of the drum it brings will continue into 2007.

The Kwanzaa celebration will end January 1st with a traditional exchange of gifts and a feast.  

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