Habari Gani? Umoja! Happy Kwanzaa
Are you celebrating seven days of African heritage and values? Learn about the cultural holiday and a few Kwanzaa events planned in South Louisiana.
Tradition. Family. Valor. Principles. Heritage. Honor. These words capture the meaning and focus of Kwanzaa, a seven-day holiday that affirms African family and social values.
Deriving from Southern African first-fruits celebrations, Kwanzaa is celebrated December 26 to January 1, primarily in the United States.
He said, "Kwanzaa is a celebration of the family which first forms us, names, nurtures and sustains us, and teaches us upright and uplifting ways to understand and assert ourselves in the world.” It is a cultural, nonreligious and nonpolitical holiday.
A key custom during Kwanzaa is the daily lighting of the Kinara, in which black, red, and green candles are burned. These colors symbolize: black for people of the African Diaspora, red for the blood, and green for growth and the natural fertility of Africa.
Following a greeting of “Habari Gani?” The principle of the day—known as Nguzu Saba— is stated. These principles are: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative enomics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).
“Kwanzaa is a deep infusion of an uplifting African value system that not only strengthens our ability to fight for change, but also gives us space to consider and express our own vision of freedom and liberation,” Scot Brown, Ph.D, vice chair of African American Studies at the University of California told Stephanie L. King of OprahDaily.com
After the lighting, those who celebrate Kwanzaa reflect and hold discussions on the principle* of the day, enjoy a meal and music with family and friends, acknowledge ancestors through libations, and exchange handmade gifts. (Read the Nguzu Saba principles at the end of this article)
These Kwanzaa events are scheduled in Southeast Louisiana.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26 - JANUARY (Daily)
With this year’s theme, “Living to Be: Embracing the Nguzu Saba Everyday of the Year,” Eternal Seeds and Know Nola Tours are hosting a week-long journey at StudioBE for the 5th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration. New Orleans historian Malik Bartholomew will lead daily conversations and candle lighting that symbolizes the corresponding Kwanzaa Principle. The week includes Eternal Seeds Imagination League Presentation, Eternal Seeds Artist Market, Black Author Day, Kwanzaa Radical Freedom Dream Youth Workshop and Art Toy Giveaway, Annual Community Kwanzaa Vendor Market, and an exhibition opening. Registration is highly encouraged but not required to attend.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28
East Baton Rouge’s Baker Branch Library will host Kwanzaa Candles Story/Craft Time for children ages 3-11. They will listen to My Family Celebrates Kwanzaa by Lisa Bullard and make a Kwanzaa craft sign to take home. All patrons of appropriate cognitive ages with a helper are welcome. Children under the age of 9 must be accompanied by an adult.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29
The Set Up - A Ujamaa Celebration of Black Bars in New Orleans will take place Friday, Dec 29, 2023 at 6pm. Starting in the historic Treme Market Branch, the Kwanzaa bar crawl will journey throughout the city, sample delicious Creole cuisine, and sip on signature discounted cocktails. This exciting event is a vibrant tribute to the rich culture and history of Black bars in New Orleans. According to organizers, “participants will connect with like-minded individuals and forge new friendships. Engage in meaningful conversations, share stories, and celebrate the spirit of Ujamaa, a Swahili principle emphasizing cooperative economics and community support.” Tickets at $40 on Eventbrite.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30
Celebrating the fifth day of Kwanzaa, the People’s Political Party in Defense of the People along with Victory Over Louisiana Violence, Louisiana Storm, and All Black Diva’z SC will bring their annual event to South Baton Rouge. The event will feature the traditional candle lighting and craft making in celebration of Nia, or purpose. Toy, clothing, and giftswill be distributed to youth. The celebration starts a 1pm at the corner of 16th Street and Blanch Court.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31
The Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge will have its annual Kwanzaa Celebration during the 9 am and 11:30am services at 8470 Goodwood Blvd in Baton Rouge. The lesson theme is “A Feast of Faith.” Check out youtube.com/@UnitarianBR.
Nguzu Saba meanings:
Unity: Umoja (oo–MO–jah) To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah) To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.
Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah) To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah) To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee) To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle