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HABARI GANI? Kwanzaa 2022 in Rochester!

By Tyronda James
tyrondajames@minorityreporter.net

Photo by RODNAE Productions: https://www.pexels.com/photo/first-fruits-and-seven-candles-of-kwanzaa-6192356/

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa honors family, community and culture in the African American tradition, according to officialkwanzaawebsite.org. The name “Kwanzaa” comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means first fruits. Each one of the seven principles is also identified in Swahili — the most widely spoken African language.

Kwanzaa celebrations in the United States began in 1966, after being founded by Maulana Karenga, current chair of the Department of Africana Studies at California State University. Karenga holds two doctorate degrees – one in political science and another in social ethics. He stresses the need to preserve, continually revitalize and promote African American culture.

Africans and African-Americans of all religious faiths and backgrounds celebrate Kwanzaa as the holiday is not a religious celebration but a cultural one.

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba: The Seven Principles embraces a principle that should be celebrated yearlong.

The principles of Kwanzaa are:

  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)

Kwanzaa means “first fruits of the harvest,” it is a time to celebrate African American people, our ancestors and our culture. We seek to honor our past, evaluate our present and commit ourselves to a more productive future. Africans and African-Americans of all religious faiths and backgrounds celebrate Kwanzaa. We need Kwanzaa now more than ever.

The Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition has scheduled daily events and programs at various locations from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 to celebrate Kwanzaa.

Habari Gani? Is a term used most often around Kwanzaa and is a Kiswahili greeting meaning, “Hey, what’s up or What’s the News?

And, according to the Rochester Coalition, Kwanzaa Rochester 2022 is ‘what’s up!’

From December 26 through January 1, 2023, his Kwanzaa 2022, you can join the Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition, who has scheduled daily events and programs at various locations from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 to celebrate.

Join the Coalition for good company, games, art activities, community conversations and a re-commitment to service for a better 2023.

Check out these Kwanzaa events in and around Rochester:

  • December 26: UMOJA/UNITY at The Black House, located at 215 Tremont Street Door 3 Floor 3 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • December 27: KUJICHAGULIA/SELF-DETERMINATION at the Phillis Wheatley Community Library, 33 Dr. Samuel McCree Way from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • December 28: UJIMA/COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY located at The Black House, 215 Tremont Street, Door 3 Floor 3 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • December 29: UJAMAA/COOPERATION ECONOMICS at Legacy Drama House, 112 Webster Avenue from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • December 30: NIA/PURPOSE at Frederick Douglass Family Initiative Granite Building, 140 East Main Street from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • December 31: KUUMBA/CREATIVITY at Montgomery Neighborhood Center, 10 Cady Street from 6 p.m to 9 p.m.
  • January 1: IMANI/FAITH is a precious time for a celebration to be spent with family and friends at home.

“Kwanzaa is the end of the year family and community cultural celebration that recognizes the good that has happened globally with people of African descent. Here, in Rochester, we recognize youth, adults and elders who, this year, have made their families and community proud,” members of the Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition said.

For the coalition’s complete schedule, go to https://www.facebook.com/pg/RochesterKwanzaaCoalition/events/.

You can also find out about the News of Kwanzaa by viewing Cultural Expressions: Kwanzaa, a 2022 documentary film honoring the heritage, unity, culture, and rich contributions of African Americans. Kwanzaa is more than just a celebration; it’s a way of life.

Photo: Delores Jackson Radney, Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition, Credit: WXXI. https://www.wxxi.org/kwanzaa

Cultural Expressions: Kwanzaa, produced by WXXI Public Media, explores the seven principles that are the foundation of Kwanzaa by sharing seven real-life stories of impact. The stories reveal how each principle plays a role in the Black community, illustrated through cultural elements of dance, storytelling, music, and spoken word, according to the WXXI website.

The documentary first premiered on Sunday, December 18, 2022 on WXXI-TV. It the seven principles that are the foundation of Kwanzaa by sharing seven real-life stories of impact.

Cultural Expressions: Kwanzaa features interviews with Dr. David A. Anderson/Sankofa, Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition; Delores Jackson Radney, Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition; Melanie Funchess, Principal & CEO, Ubuntu Village Works LLC; Reenah Golden, Founder and Artistic Director, Avenue Blackbox Theatre; Anthony and Zakiya King, Owners of Cerebral Kingdom Bookstore; Terry Chaka, Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition, and more.

Cultural Expressions: Kwanzaa repeats on WXXI-WORLD on Dec. 27 at 11 a.m., Dec. 30 at 4 p.m. and Dec. 31 at 10 p.m., and on WXXI-CREATE on Dec. 26 at 10 p.m., Dec. 28 at 11 a.m., and Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.

Visit https://www.wxxi.org/kwanzaa for any additional information.

Here is an excerpt from Kwanzaa founder, Dr. Maulana Karenga:

As an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world African community, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. Given the profound significance Kwanzaa has for African Americans and indeed, the world African community, it is imperative that an authoritative source and site be made available to give an accurate and expansive account of its origins, concepts, values, symbols and practice.

Moreover, given the continued rapid growth of Kwanzaa and the parallel expanded discussion of it and related issues, an authoritative source which aids in both framing and informing the discussion is likewise of the greatest importance. Therefore, the central interest of this website is to provide information which reveals and reaffirms the integrity, beauty and expansive meaning of the holiday and thus aids in our approaching it with the depth of thought, dignity, and sense of specialness it deserves.

The holiday, then will of necessity, be engaged as an ancient and living cultural tradition which reflects the best of African thought and practice in its reaffirmation of the dignity of the human person in community and culture, the well-being of family and community, the integrity of the environment and our kinship with it, and the rich resource and meaning of a people’s culture. It is within this understanding, then, that the Organization Us, the founding organization of Kwanzaa and the authoritative keeper of the tradition, has established and maintains this website.

During the holiday, families and communities organize activities around the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles): Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and lmani (Faith). Participants also celebrate with feasts (karamu), music, dance, poetry, narratives and end the holiday with a day dedicated to reflection and recommitment to The Seven Principles and other central cultural values.

~ Dr. Maulana Karenga