Kwanzaa Begins Saturday with online events

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The seven-day African American festival of Kwanzaa begins Saturday with many celebrations canceled, altered or moved online because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Makeda Dread Cheatom, Founder & Executive Director of the World Beat Center joined Good Morning San Diego to discuss the organization’s Kwanzaa celebrations.

An online Kwanzaa Kuumba Makers Festival organized by the California African American Museum will be streamed from 2-3:15 p.m. Saturday. The recorded family workshop celebrating Kwanzaa’s Sixth Principle, Kuumba (Creativity), consists of instruction from artists in making a memory book and a decoupage workshop.

Required reservations can be made at caamuseum.org/programs/kids-teens-and-families/kwanzaa-kuumba-makers-festival.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Karenga, now chair of Africana Studies at Cal State Long Beach, in what he called “an audacious act of self-determination.”

Karenga described Kwanzaa in the 2020 founder’s message as “a special season and celebration of our sacred and expansive selves as African people” and “a unique pan-African time of remembrance, reflection, reaffirmation, and recommitment.”

“It is a special and unique time to remember and honor our ancestors; to reflect on what it means to be African and human in the most expansive and meaningful sense; and to reaffirm the sacred beauty and goodness of ourselves and the rightfulness of our relentless struggle to be ourselves and free ourselves and contribute to an ever-expanding realm of freedom, justice and caring in the world,”  Karenga wrote.

Kwanzaa’s focus is the “Nguzo Saba,” the Seven Principles — Unity, Self-determination, Collective work and responsibility, Cooperative economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith.

During the week, a candelabrum called a Kinara is lit, and ears of corn representing each child in the family are placed on a traditional straw mat.

African foods such as millet, spiced pepper balls and rice are often served. Some people fast during the holiday, and a feast is often held on its final night.

A flag with three bars — red for the struggle for freedom, black for unity and green for the future — is sometimes displayed during the holiday.

Kwanzaa is based on the theory of Kawaida, which espouses that social revolutionary change for Black America can be achieved by exposing Blacks to their cultural heritage.

“As families, friends, and communities light the Kinara over the next seven days, our nation honors the indelible contributions of African Americans to the strength and vitality of the United States,” President Donald Trump said in his Kwanzaa message.

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