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Culture, Lifestyle & Sports

Kwanzaa combines 'best of African cultures'

Kwanzaa Candles
Rebecca Baer
/
Delaware Public Media

The weeklong celebration of Kwanzaa continued Wednesday night with festivities in Wilmington.

Kwanzaa was founded in the U.S. in the 1960s as a celebration of African-American culture and values.

Richard and AliShah Watson have been celebrating it as a family for more than ten years. This year, their nonprofit, Culture Restoration Project, took the celebration to the community.

They organized a Kwanzaa celebration at the Police Athletic League where they were eager to pass the tradition on to a younger generation.

“We want our children to know who they are, where they come from and that gives them a sense of pride and they’re able to participate in the world in a more progressive way,” Mr. Watson said.

African Drumming
Rebecca Baer
/
Delaware Public Media
Kwanzaa activities included African drumming

We want them to understand they have a rich culture, they have a culture to be proud of, that they have a tradition that is their own,” added Ms. Watson, who noted that many Black Americans are unable to trace their ancestors to a particular part of Africa.

Therefore, she said, Kwanzaa is “a combination of all of the best of African cultures coming together as one because we don’t know where we come from in Africa, we don’t know our tribe, but what we do know is African culture.”

The event included food, crafts, and African drumming.
Held on the fifth day of Kwanzaa, which focuses on “cooperative economics,” the event also featured vendors from several black-owned businesses and nonprofits.

Kwanzaa books
Rebecca Baer
/
Delaware Public Media
Ebony's Haven, a nonprofit that promotes childhood literacy, was among the vendors featured at the event.

Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to a specific principle designed to build community. The Watsons point to Umoja, or unity, and Kujichagulia, self-determination, celebrated on the first two days of Kwanzaa.

“So that’s teaching our children - and adults too - about working together, and it’s also teaching us about self-determination, defining ourselves for ourselves, not letting other people determine who we are, what we can be,.” said Ms. Watson. 

The other principles of Kwanzaa include collective work and responsibility, purpose, creativity and faith. The holiday is celebrated annually from December 26 to January 1.