Drummers Set the Cultural Tone of Kwanzaa at Defremery Park Honoring Ujima and Queen Mother Makinya. Photo By Carla Thomas.
Kwanzaa came to the Defremery Community Center, also known as Little Bobby Hutton Park, in West Oakland on Thursday, December 28. In celebration of Ujima, focusing on collective work and responsibility the event brought together community leaders, families and elected officials to celebrate their heritage and cultural responsibilities.
Opening with the Black National Anthem, guests were welcomed by Center Director, Valorie Winn. Libation was poured in honor of the ancestors by Minister Gregory Hodge and Sister HuNia.
Dr. Ayodele “Wordslanger” Nzinga provided cultural expressions and Artist Jazz provided spoken word and poetry.
All elders over 65 were asked to come to the center of the celebration. Three elders emerged and danced as the drummers and participants honored them. Other parts of the ceremony included the lighting of candles, unity cup and community announcements. All joined in a circle and announced their contributions and professions in the community. Booth representatives offered educational, health and spiritual consultations.
The Kwanzaa celebration was also dedicated to the Queen Mother Makinya, “Mother of Kwanzaa who died in February of last year at the age of 90.
Sister Makinya Sibeko-Kouate, a bay area based educator and radio host is credited with spreading Kwanzaa throughout the world and hosting the very first Kwanza celebration in her home in 1967.
The seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba of African Heritage have a dedicated meaning each day.
- Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
- Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
- Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
- Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
- Kuumba (Creativity): 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.
- Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
The new Kwanzaa 360 app will feature everything Kwanzaa. The app was developed to and allow the global community to interact and celebrate the principles of Kwanzaa throughout the year.