Afri-kin

Local Kwanzaa events will entertain the whole family

Invented in 1966, Kwanzaa may be the youngest of the winter celebrations, but it descends from long-standing harvest-ritual traditions in Africa, such as those of the Ashanti and Zulu peoples.

The seven days of the holiday -- Dec. 26-Jan. 1 this time around -- may trigger thoughts of the eight days of Hanukkah. Both holidays use a candelabrum to mark the days, though Kwanzaa names each day after a different principle on which African-Americans may reflect (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith). Perhaps what most sets Kwanzaa apart is its nonreligious nature; in that sense, it doesn't really compete with the other December hoedowns.

The St. Louis Kwanzaa Committee sponsors two fun activities this week: "Day of Umoja" opens the holiday with workshops, discussions, performances by the Ngoma African Drummers and Dancers, kids' activities and a candlelighting ceremony at the Firefighters Institute for Racial Equality, 1020 N. Taylor Ave. Call 314-496-7911 for more info on the happening, which begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 26. The similarly named "Ujima Day" is a skating party featuring songs, candlelighting and music by Afrikan Diaspora from 1-4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28, at the Skate King Skating Center, 2700 Kienlen Ave. Call the number listed above for more info on the skating party, which costs just $7 per family.

Kwanzaa 2000 at the Garden
Kwanzaa 2000 at the Garden

Forest Park's St. Louis Art Museum gets into the act with "The Heart and Soul of Kwanzaa," sponsored by local Delta Sigma Theta sorority alumnae. Artist/filmmaker/writer/community organizer Dr. Patricia Hilliard-Nunn speaks to the assembled, and the Moja Moya Drummers and Delta Academy Girls Choir perform. Call 314-721-0072 for more info on the free event, which gets started at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29.

Also on Dec. 29, the Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd., offers "Kwanzaa: Festival of the First Fruits," which includes a ceremony, storytelling, craft and jewelry workshops, and drummers and other musicians. The event is free with Garden admission (free-$7) and runs from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 314-577-9400 for more details.

 
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