• 30°

The community gathers for annual Kwanzaa celebration

Myriah Harris first learned about Kwanzaa during a Girl Scout program a few weeks ago.  Her mother, Myra, thought it would be interesting to learn even more about the principles of this 48-year-old holiday.

Kwanzaa is a nonreligious holiday that begins Dec. 26 and is celebrated through Jan. 1. The holiday was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, an African studies professor at California State University. The holiday celebrates family, community and culture.

In the early years of the Kwanzaa celebration in Salisbury, the attendees went from house to house for activities and eventually it was held at the Miller Recreation Center. Organizer Eleanor Quadirah said the Kwanzaa celebration was even once held at Rowan Helping Ministries’ homeless shelter and the YMCA in Salisbury.

This year’s event, which is in its 20th year, was celebrated on Saturday at the City Park Recreation Center. Today is Ujamaa, the fourth day of Kwanzaa. In some Kwanzaa celebrations some families go to each other’s homes on a different day.

Quadirah said the event changes from year-to-year, but the event centers on the seven principles known in Swahili as Nguzo Saba.

The seven principles were created to introduce the seven basic values of African cultures, which are — Umoha (00-MOH-jah) or unity, Kujichaguila (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah) self-determination, Ujima (oo-JEE-mah) collective work and responsibility, Ujamaa (00-jah-MAH) collective economics, Nia (NEE-ah) purpose, Kummba (koo-OOM-bah) creativity and Imani (ee-MAH-nee) faith.

The greetings during Kwanzaa are in Swahili. Gifts are given mostly to children that include a kinara or candle holder, a book, African-based folktales, or something handmade.

Each day a candle is lit and the previous day’s candle is lit in conjunction with the new day. On day one a black candle is lit and on day two the black candle is lit along with a red one. As the week progresses a green candle is added to the kinara and the colors are repeated. Traditionally those gathered say how they are applying the seven principles in their lives.

The red symbolically represents the struggles of the African ancestors that included the blood that was shed, while black represents the African people and green symbolizes the fertile land of Africa and the hope that comes from their struggle.

The Harris family, which included Malakie, 9, attended the event for the first time.
Norman McCullough attended with his wife, Darnell. Norman is a history professor at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College who focuses on American and African-American history.

“It’s important, especially for our young people, to know about their foundation,” McCullough said.

He said Kwanzaa is about self-esteem and you feel about yourself as a person.

“I want them to take responsibility for learning and be inspired to learn and do something,” said actress and writer April Turner.

Turner facilitated the event with explanations about the history of Kwanzaa and she also shared an African folktale and music with the audience. Nearly every audience member was given a musical instrument to play.

After the event organizers had a “feast” prepared by Chef Santos for those gathered. The feast is part of the celebration and can include southern soul food. The feast may take place on the first night, on New Year’s Eve or the last day of the celebration.

There were a few vendors and artisans at the event including the Spencer Doll and Toy Musem.

Retired educataor Sandra Smiling was one of those artisans. She’s originally from New York, but now lives in Cabarrus County. Since her retirement she’s been making and selling soaps at festivals and events. She attends six or seven shows a year. Smiling buys ingredients from Ghana and uses essential oils and other natural ingredients to make the soaps.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

Comments

Business

State names Rowan among most economically distressed counties

High School

High school volleyball: South Rowan wins another CCC match

Education

Catawba College’s Service of Lessons and Carols moves virtual

Local

Spencer’s Park Plaza financing gets OK from state’s Local Government Commission

Education

Kannapolis City Schools to hold public hearing on construction equity policy

Local

Drivers identified in I-85 double vehicle crash, fire

Local

Driver cited in two-vehicle Mooresville Road collision

Crime

Tractor stolen from Ritchie Road

Coronavirus

North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd tests positive for COVID-19

Crime

Blotter: Vehicles broken into overnight at Marriott, Comfort Suites hotels

Coronavirus

County reports two new COVID-19 deaths, two weeks of 50-case daily increases

Local

Red wolves have been busy growing up at Dan Nicholas Park

Local

Salisbury City Council to consider contract for street paving

Education

Catawba College honors employees for length of service

High School

High school football: Clay hopes for big senior season

Local

Helen, Ralph Brown contribute to Christmas Happiness to help people in need

Cleveland

Cleveland Police charge woman with attempted murder after Sunday night shooting

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cases in Rowan continue to surge after 50 new cases added; 19% of total cases active

Local

Salisbury Police investigating accidental shooting at apartment building

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man arrested on felony counts of trafficking

Local

Motorcyclist airlifted following wreck on Jake Alexander Boulevard Sunday

Elections

Political Notebook: Senate Republicans disagree with Cooper administration halting CARES Act spending

Ask Us

Ask Us: Readers ask about legality of begging in Salisbury, Dominion voting machines

Local

Biden fractures foot while playing with dog, to wear a boot