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Kwanzaa: The People, the Blood, the Bounty

Dec. 28, 2004 – The beating of drums resounded from the Enid M. Baa public library Tuesday as about 60 individuals – mostly children – participated in the third annual Kwanzaa Celebration on St. Thomas.
A wooden "kinara" or candleholder graced the center of the room with seven candles representing each principle of Kwanzaa. The black center candle represented the people; the three red candles the blood shed; and the green candles the bounty of the land.
"Funga amafia" – "Welcome!" – participants chanted an invitation to the spirits of their ancestors in Swahili and English before moving into a lively chant led by Eddie Bruce.
The Friends of the St. Thomas Public Libraries hosted the event, held in the Children's Reading Room of the library.
Akinyemi Blake and his wife, Mariel, poured water from a Kikombe Cup during a libation ceremony in honor of the ancestors and elders. One by one individuals in the group called out the names of Black leaders and ancestors who had gone on before and welcomed their presence. From Bob Marley to Enid Baa, the ancestors' presence was sought.
Those in the audience were told the meaning of Kwanzaa and reflected on the day's principle of "Ujima" – collective work and responsibility.
"Kwanzaa is about our values, our culture," Kuumba Leba Ola-Niyi told the group.
He urged them to work together as a community for the common good of all. Ola-Niyi, a local educator, also explained the other principles of Kwanzaa. (See "Kwanzaa Emphasizes Family, Social, Spiritual Values").
"Now that you've learned the principles of Kwanzaa, practice them each and every day, not just during Kwanzaa," Ola-Niyi told the group.
Seven selected children took turns lighting the candles in the kinara and reminded the audience of the meaning of each flame.
The children were also entertained during storytelling time, after which, the group shared in a small "feast."
"It's very important to share this with the children," Ola-Niyi said. "They will be the ones to continue it as we become elders."
Kwanzaa, a cultural celebration for African descendants in the Diaspora founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga, is an annual event that takes place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.
The event is based on traditional African harvest festivals and incorporates the seven principles, "Nguzo Saba," in hopes of instilling these values in the lives of participants. Each day, a different principle is observed.
During the weeklong celebration observers will share in reflecting upon that day's principle and light a candle at noon at Ital Ase Botanica and Wedding Services across from Creque's Funeral Home.
Also, at 11 a.m. Saturday at Brewers Bay Beach, the Kwanzaa Coalition will celebrate "Imani" – Faith – the seventh principle of Kwanzaa. The group will also host a Community Feast at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Cultural Community Center in St. Thomas. Participants and families are asked to bring a natural vegan dish, fresh fruit or juices, and to wear African cultural attire.

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