City wide issues

Kwanzaa

Every year on December 26, there is an annual commemoration of African American culture called Kwanzaa that  begins.  While Kwanzaa occurs around the time of other festive holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah, it isn’t associated with a religion.  Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits of the harvest” culminating in gift-giving and a feast.Kwanzaa has much in common with other relatively recent, nation-centric holidays like Bastille Day and St. Patrick’s Day.  Kwanzaa is primarily Observed in the US and across nations of the African diaspora.  In America, African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa to honor African culture through the remembrance of principles embraced by the ancestors of Mother Africa.  Kwanzaa was founded by  Dr. Maulana Karenga, an author and activist who was involved with the Black Power movement in the 1960s and 1970s, and was first celebrated over a half a century ago, in an effort to instill racial pride and unity within the black community.The celebration of the 7 principles are as follows:

Dec. 26th – Umoja (Unity): Striving for and maintaining unity in the family and the community.
Dec. 27th – Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): Defining oneself and speaking for oneself
Dec. 28th – Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): Building and maintaining a community and making our brother’s and sister’s problems our own and solve them together
Dec. 29th – Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): Building and maintaining our businesses for ourselves and each other
Dec. 30th – Nia (Purpose): To build and develop our collective communities together
Dec. 31st – Kuumba (Creativity): To do whatever we can to leave our communities more beautiful than when we inherited them
Jan. 1st – Imani (Faith): To believe with our hearts in our people, our families and the righteousness of our struggleAs we strive to spread Kwanzaa to all areas everywhere the need for an ambassador became clear.  Although Kwanza has nothing to do with Christmas and Santa, the message of Good-will, hope and joy are driven further through the personification of Santa and it is this lesson that we adapt into Kwanzaa.  In 2016 E.D. Mondainé President of the NAACP and local Pastor of Celebration Tabernacle Church, created and introduced Father Kwanza.  “Normalizing African Americans in culture, presence and traditions in American holiday celebrations is necessary and key to the annihilation of racism in America”, says Mondainé. “Children of every creed and color are automatically drawn to the image and are elated by Father Kwanzaa’s presence”
Father Kwanzaa embodies the principle of Kuumba (creativity) and it is through creativity that we can channel all of the Kwanzaa principles to open hearts and open minds.  It is through the presence of Father Kwanzaa that children and parents alike can become captivated and encouraged to instill the principles that benefit not only our community but all people in all communities.  To affirm black identity, to bridge racial identities and to oppose to white-washed consumer norms.Dr. Joyce Harris who has headed up the efforts of the Kwanzaa celebration in the Portland area for over 20 years, encouraged the introduction of an iconic figure that points the way to the principles of Kwanzaa as a wonderful addition to the traditional African American celebration.  It is our vision that Kwanzaa becomes more widespread and naturally shifts into a recognized national holiday.Father Kwanzaa is coming to town, appearing at the Matt Dishman Community Center on December 26th, 1pm-4pm, located at 77 N.E. Knott St. right here in Portland, Oregon. For details call: 503-823-3673

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