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Kwanzaa, a time to foster pride in African culture
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/2966336 ^

Posted on 12/27/2004 6:45:37 AM PST by ConservativeDude

Kwanzaa, a time to foster pride in African culture Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services

Associated Press Gary Harvey stands behind a kinara, a candleholder similar to a menorah, as he gives a Kwanzaa presentation Sunday at the Hope Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Utica, N.Y. The seven-day festival, which was established 38 years ago by Maulana Karenga, celebrates family, community and culture.

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- For Marlene Ware, a teacher at Teaneck High School, Kwanzaa is an opportunity to demystify Africa.

"A lot of African-Americans to this day really don't acknowledge the role that Africa has in the world," Ware said.

As organizer of the high school's annual Kwanzaa celebration, which was held earlier this month, Ware uses the holiday to demonstrate the importance of Africa to people of all races.

She understands that Kwanzaa, which began Sunday, can be of particular value to young African-Americans. Ware said many young people have distorted impressions of Africa, and Kwanzaa can correct that.

"We're really hoping it does raise self-esteem, particularly of African-Americans about their culture. They really don't know about Africa," she said.

In addition to organizing the high school's Kwanzaa festival, Ware teaches African dance and organizes trips to the continent every few years. At the Kwanzaa celebration on Dec. 12, Ware had classes teaching African drumming and jewelry-making as well as a ceremony explaining the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

"It's a time when the community comes together and celebrates African culture, and that's why we did it."

Families and educators look to Kwanzaa as a way to educate young people, particularly young African-Americans, about Africa as well as the struggles blacks have faced in the United States.

"It invites family time and family unity and it gives them another sense of who they are," said Keli Drew Lockhart-Ba of Trenton, a psychologist who celebrates the holiday with her family and runs a business, Creative Memories, that constructs family scrapbooks for special occasions like Kwanzaa.

"It connects people to their heritage," said Verushka Spirito, associate director for performances at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, which held its annual children's festival earlier this month and drew about 5,000 youths from around the state. The event included African dance classes, where young people attempted to soar and twirl down the dance floor, as well as face-painting, music concerts and storytelling.

Kwanzaa was first observed in 1966. It was created by Maulana Karenga, now the chairman of the black studies department at California State University at Long Beach, as a way for African-Americans to celebrate their roots in Africa. It is now observed by millions of people around the world.

The holiday's name comes from the Swahili matunda ya kwanza, which means "first fruits." And Kwanzaa uses as its inspiration for its ceremonies the early harvest celebrations in Africa.

Kwanzaa celebrates the Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles. They are 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. During each night of the holiday, celebrants light a candle on the kinara, a candleholder similar to a menorah, to recognize each of the principles. Each day a different principle is celebrated.

For Lockhart-Ba, the non-religious nature of the holiday makes it a great way to share a special moment with her family since her husband is Muslim and she is Christian.

"It's not a religious holiday, it gives our family an opportunity to understand our heritage and we go over all the principles and for each principle we have the kids read them," Lockhart-Ba said.

Ware said it's important to tear down stereotypes about Africa.

Bridgette Johnson, a senior at Teaneck High School, said that many of her peers only think of famine and AIDS when they imagine the subcontinent.

"I think when people think of Africa, they think of HIV and the commercials on TV with the hungry kids," said Johnson. "If people asked me if there is one place I wanted to go, I would say Africa."

Johnson and Ware, along with 18 other fine- and performing-arts students and another teacher, are traveling to Ghana this spring to experience Africa firsthand. The group, called THREAD -- Teaneck High Represents Education Art and Diversity -- has held bake sales and talent shows to raise money for its trip, which isn't officially being sponsored by the board of education.

"Ghana is a big part of the middle passage," Ware said. The middle passage is the journey African slaves took to reach the United States from Africa. Ghana is one of the countries where slaves were transported to the New World. "It's really going to be an excellent experience." The students will exchange lessons with their peers from Ghana during the trip.

Johnson said many friends were shocked she wanted to travel to Ghana.

"When I told a lot of people I was going to Africa they told me, `Don't talk to me,' when I get back, `You'll have AIDS,'" Johnson said.

"It's a chance to get out of America and in school everyone always talk about the facts about Africa and nobody really knows," said Sade Henry, also a senior at Teaneck High School. "I think we should learn more about Africa."

Johnson said that if more people celebrated Kwanzaa, there would be a greater understanding of the importance of the continent.

"Unless you celebrate the holiday, you don't know the gist of it," Henry said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: aflac; africanamericans; boxingshortsday; festivus4therestofus; fredzaa; getagripwhiners; henrywinklerasdkwanz; itsnobigdeal; kazooday; kuckarookwanzai; kwanzaa; kwanzaaduck; michellekwanzaa; overreactionthread; pingpongzaa; professionalcynics; sallystrutherscrying; singittoto; yawnzaa
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I guess Kwanzaa began yesterday.
1 posted on 12/27/2004 6:45:37 AM PST by ConservativeDude
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To: ConservativeDude

Every time I see people celebrating this fake holiday, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.


2 posted on 12/27/2004 6:46:22 AM PST by thoughtomator (Nobody expects the secular inquisition!)
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To: ConservativeDude

Kwanzaa-Crock-Ping


3 posted on 12/27/2004 6:46:58 AM PST by Psycho_Bunny (I know a great deal about the Middle East because Ive been raising Arabian horses" Patrick Swazey)
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To: ConservativeDude

Funny, in Africa they have never celebrated "Kwanzaa" - and they would look at you funny if you asked them about it...


4 posted on 12/27/2004 6:47:06 AM PST by 2banana (They want to die for Islam and we want to kill them)
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To: 2banana

The best thing: Kwanzaa uses Swahili and Swahili is a language spoken in East Africa. The slaves came from West Africa.


5 posted on 12/27/2004 6:48:18 AM PST by AppyPappy (If You're Not A Part Of The Solution, There's Good Money To Be Made In Prolonging The Problem.)
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To: ConservativeDude

Kwanzaa is the funniest holiday ever created by an ExCon.


6 posted on 12/27/2004 6:51:42 AM PST by Conspiracy Guy (Pray for the millions of lives disrupted by tsunami.)
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To: AppyPappy

Quit bringing up facts. They only get in the way.


7 posted on 12/27/2004 6:51:45 AM PST by ConservativeDude
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: ConservativeDude
Starting this January 2nd we will start celebrating "Fred-Za" day. No special significants... just guys named fred will exchange pocket and/or belly-button lint.

See anyone can make up a holiday.

9 posted on 12/27/2004 6:53:40 AM PST by bedolido (I can forgive you for killing my sons, but I cannot forgive you for forcing me to kill your sons)
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To: AppyPappy

There is no "African" culture any more than there is a "European" culture or "Asian" culture that would cover the entire continents. Kwanzaa is nothing more than Marxism with Swahili names


10 posted on 12/27/2004 6:54:33 AM PST by RebelBanker (To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!)
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To: AppyPappy

That's not the funniest part. Swahili is a language created by and for slavers, the mixed Arab and Bantu slavers of the eastern coast of Africa who hauled black slaves to the middle east.


11 posted on 12/27/2004 6:54:49 AM PST by Restorer (Europe is heavily armed, but only with envy.)
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To: ConservativeDude
"A lot of African-Americans to this day really don't acknowledge the role that Africa has in the world," Ware said.

What role is that, exactly? A bottomless pit for U.S. taxpayer dollars? The favorite location for the Animal Planet channel? The disease capital of the world?

12 posted on 12/27/2004 6:56:02 AM PST by Mr. Mojo
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To: ConservativeDude
"A lot of African-Americans to this day really don't acknowledge the role that Africa has in the world," Ware said.

It's a huge pustule on our planet. Let's celebrate.

13 posted on 12/27/2004 6:57:36 AM PST by Moonman62 (Federal Creed: If it moves tax it. If it keeps moving regulate it. If it stops moving subsidize it.)
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To: thoughtomator

Every time I see people celebrating this fake holiday, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
=====
It's just another creation of the fantasy-driven liberal minds. It is a sham.


14 posted on 12/27/2004 6:57:47 AM PST by EagleUSA
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To: Restorer

Are these people really THAT stupid to be buying in to this made-up 'holiday'? I guess if they eat up Jesse Jackson's bu**shit, they'll believe ANYTHING that is anti-whitey!


15 posted on 12/27/2004 6:58:06 AM PST by Jazzman1
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To: Mr. Mojo

One of those three is not bad...also plenty of good big game hunts for those non-Zimbabwe "countries".


16 posted on 12/27/2004 6:59:29 AM PST by ConservativeDude
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To: ConservativeDude
Kwanzaa

Giving people another day off since 1966

17 posted on 12/27/2004 6:59:51 AM PST by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it.)
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To: RebelBanker

Do they mean Egyptian Culture or Morrocan Culture?


18 posted on 12/27/2004 7:01:20 AM PST by AppyPappy (If You're Not A Part Of The Solution, There's Good Money To Be Made In Prolonging The Problem.)
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To: ConservativeDude
"African culture"?

WHICH African culture? The one in Egypt, Morocco, South Africa? Which country? Which tribe in Cameroon? Even the single countries have no ONE culture themselves. "Black" culture? Muslim culture? Ethiopian Christian culture? Egyption Coptic culture? Bantu, Masai, Somali? Samburu? TOO MANY cultures.

There is no one "African culture." Never has been, and, as long as there are Arabs, blacks and whites in that huge continent, I doubt if there ever will be on.

Plua, celebrating a culture of another continent with a MADE-UP celebration defeats the whole purpose of celebration. TRADITIONS are celebrated. There is no tradition, African, American or black, with this phoney-baloney holiday. It's all butthump.

19 posted on 12/27/2004 7:01:52 AM PST by starfish923
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To: EagleUSA

The really pathetic part is the teacher feeding this BS to her students because "they don't know about African history". Ah yes, all those great historica Kwanzaa celebrations in Swahili, in West Africa.


20 posted on 12/27/2004 7:02:15 AM PST by thoughtomator (Nobody expects the secular inquisition!)
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