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Kwanzaa 2009

December 21, 2009

by Wanda Sabir

Habari gani, everyone! Happy Kwanzaa! Here are all the Kwanzaa celebrations we’ve been notified of; if you don’t find one near you, host one yourself and tell us about it so we can add it to the list. First, to help you prepare, is a description of the principles and symbols of Kwanzaa, courtesy of Nozipo Wobogo of the Bay Area Kwanzaa Committee.

Nguzo Saba (In-goo-zo Sah-Bah) or Seven Principles

Umoja (oo-moh-jah) Unity To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community nation and race.

Kujichagulia (koo-jee-cha-goo-lee-ah) Self Determination To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves instead of being defined, named, created for and spoken for by others.

Ujima (oo-jee-mah) 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 (oo-jah-mah-ah) Cooperative Economics To build and maintain our own businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia (nee-ah) Purpose To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community, and to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (koo-oom-bah) Creativity To always do as much as we can, in the way that we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial that when we inherited it.

Imani (ee-mah-nee) Faith To believe with all our hearts in our God, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The symbols of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols and two supplemental ones. Each represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and contributive to community building and reinforcement. The symbols as listed below are in Kiswahili followed by English translation.

The basic symbols are:

Mazao (The Crops) These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.

Mkeka (The Mat) This is symbolic of our tradition and history and, therefore, the foundation on which we build.

Kinara (The Candle Holder) This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people – continental Africans.

Muhindi (The Corn) This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.

Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles) These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.

Kikombe cha Umoja (The Unity Cup) This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.

Zawadi (The Gifts) These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children.

The two supplemental symbols are:

Bendera (The Flag) Our red, black and green flag is based on the colors given by the Honorable Marcus Garvey as national colors for African people throughout the world.

Ankh The ancient African symbol of life.

The Bay Area Kwanzaa Committee presents the Public Houses of Kwanzaa: Celebration of Family, Community and Culture by and for People of African Ancestry

In affinity with our African ancestral heritage and celebration of first fruits and in keeping with the tradition of Kwanzaa, everyone is encouraged to bring something to share – no pork please. Kwanzaa is an African American holiday based on the African agricultural celebrations and collective principles, which contribute to the unity and development of the African community. It was created by Maulana Karenga in 1966.

Kwanzaa is a seven-day holiday observed from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. The Bay Area Kwanzaa Committee is an organization representing various Houses of Kwanzaa that have been celebrating Kwanzaa for over 20 years. The committee operates on a philosophy based on an understanding of Kwanzaa’s deep significance to the African community. The committee treats Kwanzaa as a non-commercial, spiritual, political and cultural holiday.

Umoja (Unity) hosted by Wose Community: House of Amen Ra, Saturday, Dec. 26, 6 p.m., East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC), 8200 International Blvd., Oakland, (510) 632-8230 or (510) 654-2620

Kujichagulia (Self Determination) hosted by the Nairobi Kwanzaa Committee, Sunday, Dec. 27, 7 p.m., Tulip Jones Women’s Club, 1310 Bay Road, East Palo Alto, (650) 325-5532, (650) 799-4828

Kujichagulia (Self Determination) hosted by the East Bay Church of Religious Science, Sunday, Dec. 27, 4-7 p.m., 4130 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, (510) 420-1003

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) hosted by the Pan African Peoples Organization (PAPO), Monday, Dec. 28, 7 p.m., 959 33rd St., Oakland, (510) 465-2886, (510) 917-5878

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) Tuesday, Dec. 29, to be announced

Nia (Purpose) hosted by Wose Community: House of Amen Ra, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 6 p.m., 8924 Holly St., Oakland, (510) 632-8230 or (510) 654-2620: A family night of fun – video games, classic Black movies, music (bring your iPod playlist), drum class, dominoes and more! Bring the entire family!

Kuumba (Creativity) Thursday, Dec. 31, to be announced

Imani (Faith) Friday, Jan. 1, to be held at your home in honor of the extended family

The Village Project presents Kwanzaa 2009: ‘Uniting to Build Stronger Communities, Families and Leadership’

The Village Project, in collaboration with community organizations, presents Kwanzaa Celebration 2009 for the City of San Francisco. Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is celebrated annually by more than 30 million people worldwide over seven days, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

The values of Kwanzaa, Nguzo Saba (the Seven Principles), are critical tools for addressing the issues facing the African-American community. Adrian Williams is the founder of The Village Project, a youth service organization focusing on education and cultural enrichment for youth and their families in the Fillmore. She has revived the celebration of Kwanzaa throughout San Francisco by connecting traditionally African American communities for this celebration.

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa will be hosted at seven different venues throughout the City. Participating communities will present exciting and enriching cultural programs intended to both engage and entertain the entire family. The community partners of these events include the Filllmore Center, the Buchanan YMCA, Mayor’s Office Of Neighborhood Services, Western Addition Family Resource Center, Marcus Bookstore, African American Holistic Wellness Program, Omi YMCA, Bayview YMCA, Kaiser Permanente, Fillmore Benefit District, Minnie and Lovie Recreation Center, Bayview Public Library, African American Art and Culture Complex, Jazz Heritage Center, Yoshi’s, Bayview YMCA, SNIG, Margaret Hayward Rec-Connect, Opportunity Impact, SF Safe, Kwanza Morton and Malik Seneferu.

Umoja (unity): Saturday, Dec. 26, 12-4:30 p.m., Fillmore Center Plaza, 1475 Fillmore: to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Kujichagulia (self-determination): Sunday, Dec. 27, 1:30-5 p.m., Buchanan YMCA, 1530 Buchanan: to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (collective work and responsibility): Monday, Dec. 28, 12-1 p.m., City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton Goodlett Way; 6 p.m., Marcus Book Store, 1712 Fillmore: to build and maintain our community together and make our sisters’ and brothers’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (cooperative economics): Tuesday, Dec 29, 3-7 p.m., The Minnie and Lovie Rec Center, 650 Capitol St.: to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses together.

Nia (purpose): Wednesday, Dec. 30, 1-3 p.m., Bayview Library, 5075 Third St.; 6 p.m. Reception, 7 p.m. Program, African American Arts and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton (see an expanded description of this event below): to make our collective vocation the building of our community to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (creativity): Thursday, Dec. 31, 2-5 p.m., Yoshi’s and the Jazz Heritage Center, 1330 Fillmore: to do as much as we can to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Imani (faith): Friday, Jan. 1, 6-8 p.m., Bayview YMCA, 1601 Lane St.; to believe with our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

All events are free. For more information, contact The Village Project Executive Director Adrian Williams, (415) 424-2980.

Fifth Principle of Kwanzaa: Nia (Purpose) ‘Cultivating Our Youth’

Celebrate the fifth principle of Kwanzaa: Nia (Purpose) in a program called “Cultivating Our Youth” at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton at Webster, San Francisco, on Wednesday, Dec. 30. This is our fourth year of collaboration with The Village Project in celebration of the African American holiday honoring our ancestry, our heritage and our culture. This event hones the spiritual, social and cultural purpose and responsibility that each of us as African descendents bears to our community and posterity.

In African and American celebrations, Kwanzaa places an emphasis on children as the key to the survival and development of the community. In both the biological and cultural sense, the importance of these traditional festivals are to bond the generations, celebrate the collective hard work to nourish and provide for the community, and to educate our children about their traditional greatness and the role they play in creating a bright future for humanity.

The event begins at 6 p.m. with a FREE reception and follows with the Kwanzaa gathering at 7 p.m. An event not to be missed! For more information, call (415) 922-2049.

Bay Area Discovery Museum’s Kwanzaa Celebration

Celebrate Kwanzaa throughout the Museum on Dec. 26, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with art projects inspired by the African continent and a Kwanzaa altar in the museum’s Entry Pavilion. Renowned jazz drummer E.W. Wainwright and his ensemble, the African Roots of Jazz, take us on a musical journey that traces African-American musical forms, such as jazz, gospel and spirituals, from their earliest beginnings in African cultures to today. The program features instrumental music, songs, theater and audience participation. Free museum admission and performances at Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, (415) 339-3900,

Kwanzaa in Concord

Black Families Association of Contra Costa County’s Family, Community and Culture Kwanzaa 2009 will be celebrated Tuesday, Dec. 29, 6-9 p.m., at Concord Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Circle, Concord, (925) 229-2710. Discover the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa and how they apply to oneself and one’s family’s everyday lives. All ages and ethnic groups are welcome. The evening’s program will include entertainment and refreshments. Come and learn more about what Kwanzaa is all about. Visit

CAAM Kwanzaa Fest 2009

Join the California African American Museum in celebrating the 41st anniversary of the Spirit of Kwanzaa, which has become a popular addition to the cultural celebrations of the holiday season. The event takes place Sunday, Dec. 6, and will include a candle lighting ceremony and an expanded CAAM marketplace, where there is something for everyone. The California African American Museum is located at 600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles, and opens at 11 a.m. The program begins at 1 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (213) 744-7432 or visit

California Lutheran University’s Annual Kwanzaa

CLU’s Kwanzaa celebration will feature food, a ceremony and several performances from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. Students will perform a Kwanzaa ceremony and NAACP Saturday School students will make presentations. The celebration will also include authentic African and African-American food, gospel music, dancers and vendors selling arts and crafts.

The public is invited to attend the free event to learn about this holiday. Millions of African Americans observe Kwanzaa from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 each year. It is a special time when families and friends unite to strengthen and encourage one another. The celebration will be held in Lundring Events Center in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center near the corner of Olsen Road and Campus Drive in Thousand Oaks. The NAACP Saturday School, the Afro-Centric Committee of Ventura County, and CLU’s Black Student Union and Multicultural and International Programs office are sponsoring the event. For more information, call Multicultural Programs at (805) 493-3323.

More Bay Area Kwanzaa Celebrations

Habari Gani? (What’s the news?)

In the spirit of Umoja (Unity), The Black Hour, a project of the Laney College Black Student Union, has created a beautiful new website, Bay Area Kwanzaa. There you will find a listing of all public Kwanzaa celebrations in the Bay Area, including Oakland, East Palo Alto, San Francisco, Berkeley, Vallejo and Marin. It also features resources about the Kwanzaa celebration.

Let us come together in unity.

New Kwanzaa CD: Music for the people of vision, faith and love!

A new Kwanzaa CD features 14 songs celebrating all the principles and symbols of the Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba tradition and every aspect of our annual celebrations of life, spirit and culture. The Sankofa Singers of the San Francisco Bay Area join with songwriter-singer Emeritus Minister Bro. Mxolisi Ozo Sowande of the Wosé Community of the Sacred African Way in Oakland to pour their hearts and souls into these expressions of truth, beauty and goodness, along with the music and rhythms of composer-arranger Randy Dixon.

These are songs of self-determination and joy, meaning and purpose to be sung by young and old alike are bound to become invigorating enhancements to your Kwanzaa celebrations and all the days of your life. A portion of the proceeds go to benefit Ile Omode School, the pre-K through eighth grade school operated by the Wose Community.

If you are looking for the most nearly perfect songs for the season of Kwanzaa and all the days of our Nguzo-Saba-principled lives, you will enjoy this CD. Check it out and sample all 14 songs at And tell some friends. Asante sana! Contact Mamma Akanke Peyton for your holiday gift purchase at (510) 390-2130.

Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at Visit her website at for an expanded version of Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays at 6-7 a.m. and Fridays at 8-10 a.m. and archived on the Afrikan Sistahs’ Media Network.

Habari Gani? (What's the news?)
Habari Gani? (What's the news?)

In the spirit of Umoja, The Black Hour, a project of the Laney College Black Student Union, has created a beautiful new website, Bay Area Kwanzaa, where you will find a listing of all the public Kwanzaa celebrations in the Bay Area - in Oakland, East Palo Alto, San Francisco, Berkeley, Vallejo and Marin.

It also features resources about the Kwanzaa celebration. Let us come together in unity.

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