Kwanzaa 2017 expands community


St. Petersburg –Kwanzaa 2017 will be remembered for the youth stepping up, the full embrace of the Islamic community and of Tampa entering into the festival of the harvest.

If there were complete silence, one could almost hear the jovial laughter of Dr. Maulana Karenga, who established Kwanzaa in 1966 after the devastation of the Watts Riots in Los Angeles as a way to reunite and rebuild the community. He sees Kwanzaa as the cultural answer to uniting a community torn apart by the social anguish of bigotry and oppression.

Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days immediately after Christmas across North American. Each day of Kwanzaa represents community building principle that can impact a family as well as a whole nation if practiced with diligence.

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).

The culminating Kwanzaa celebration at the Enoch Davis Community Center last Sunday celebrated Kuumba and Imani. Brother Kiambu presided gracefully over the last day of the weeklong festival.

He introduced the parade of youth who shared their talent with the community. Saidah King is a fashion designer, and she shared her stirring gift of song with an operatic voice that stunned everyone in the auditorium. Aaliyah Buchanan shared her gift of dance as she has begun to prepare to go off to college in the fall of 2017.

On the last night of the celebration, a large number of youth participated in the program.

At one point, youth made up about 25 to 30 percent of the participants, while an influx of younger parents, both men and women, attended.

This year there were two additional communities included into the festival of the harvest. The Islamic Center hosted the principle of Nia last Friday, Dec. 30, where the parking lot was filled to capacity, and there was a pilgrimage to Tampa to celebrate Kuumba on New Year’s Eve.

Carla Bristol contributed to the photos.

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