GARY | Now in its 46th year, the African-American and Pan-African celebration of Kwanzaa “is a deeply meaningful and special time of remembrance, reflection and recommitment for us as a people throughout the world African community,” Kwanzaa’s founder, Maulana Karenga, said in his 2012 annual message.
Locally, a Kwanzaa celebration begins at 5 p.m. today at the DuBois Branch of the Gary Public Library, 1805 Broadway.
Karenga, professor and chair of Africana studies at California State University, Long Beach, started the weeklong holiday that began Wednesday and ends Jan. 1 as a celebration of family, community and culture, according to his website, http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org.
The first year the holiday was celebrated, 1966, was a time of great social change for African-Americans.
Kwanzaa’s origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa, and the name is derived from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which means "first fruits."
On Wednesday, the lighting of the black candle of Umoja, or unity, celebrated the first day of Kwanzaa. The lighting symbolizes the connection of the generations and honors African heritage.
There are seven days of Kwanzaa, and the number plays a major role in the celebration’s principles and symbols.
The seven principles of Kwanzaa include Umoja, or unity; Kujichagulia, or self-determination; Ujima, or collective work and responsibility; Ujamaa, or cooperative economics; Nia, or purpose; Kuumba, or creativity; and Imani, or faith.