By Jaelyn Scott
New Journal and Guide
The Holiday of Kwanzaa is right around the corner, and what better way to celebrate it than right here in Virginia. The Elegba Folklore society is having their annual Kwanzaa Festival, one of the biggest Kwanzaa events on the East coast, at the Greater Richmond convention Center at Richmond, Virginia on December 30th from 5pm to 11pm. This year’s festival will feature an appearance by Dr. Maulana Karenga, the Creator of Kwanzaa.
Spend your evening enjoying the Kwanzaa holiday with the Candle Lighting, world Music and Dance, the African Market, Food, Children’s events, and more! Tickets for the event start at $6 for general admission with a $1.50 fee, with admission for students aged 12-18 and seniors 65+ being $5 with a $1.25 fee.
But what is the Kwanzaa Holiday, and why is it important to us as a community? The history of Kwanzaa begins in the 1960s, when Dr. Maulana Karenga, a Black Nationalist and later a college professor, created Kwanzaa as a way of uniting and empowering the African American community in the aftermath of the Watts Rebellion, which was a large series of riots that broke out on August 11, 1965, in Watts, California. To bring African Americans together as a community, he combined different aspects of several different harvest celebrations, and with that knowledge formed the weeklong holiday of Kwanza, which takes place between December 26 and end on January 1.
For each day of Kwanzaa, there are 7 items that are displayed during Kwanzaa, as well as 7 candles that are lit to symbolize a different principle of Kwanzaa.
THE SEVEN ITEMS & CANDLES OF KWANZAA
The 7 items are the Mkeka, the mat that the other symbols are placed on; the Mazao, which are the crops that represent the African Harvest celebrations; the Kinara, which is the candle holder that represents the original stalk that all African ancestors came from; the Mishumaa, which are the 7 candles in the Kinara; the Muhindi, with is the corn that represents African Children and the promise of their future; the Kikombe cha Umoja, which is the unity cup that symbolizes family and the African people; and finally the Zawadi, the gifts that represent the labors of the parents and the rewards of their children.
The Candles of the Kinara are red, green, and black, with the black candle being in the center, 3 red candles on the left of the black candle, and 3 green on the right.
THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF KWANZAA
The candles are lit in order of the 7 principles; Umoja, which represents unity; Kujichagulia, which represents self-determination; Ujima, which represents collecting work and responsibility; Ujamaa, which represents cooperative economics; Nia, which represents purpose; Kumba, which represents creativity; and Imani, which represents faith. The black candle being lit first, then they alternate from left and right starting inwards and branching outwards.
Celebrate this historical holiday as a community at the Greater Richmond convention Center at Richmond Virginia on December 30th from 5pm to 11pm and enjoy the largest Kwanzaa event on the East coast on the day of Nia.
For more information of the event, contact the Elegba Folklore Society on their website at https://efsinc.org/
Dr. Maulana Karenga, the founder of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa: The seven candles in the Kinara.