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Hudson Valley Press

January 1st, 2014

Kwanzaa Celebration Unites the Community

Mark Carter prepares the candles as the Black History Committee of the Hudson Valley presented its Annual Kwanzaa Celebration on December 29 at the Mt. Calvary Fire Baptized Church. Hudson Valley Press/CHUCK STEWART, JR.
NEWBURGH - The Black History Committee of the Hudson Valley (BHC) presented its Annual Kwanzaa Celebration on Sunday, December 29 at the Mt. Calvary Fire Baptized Church.

Each year the BHC celebrates Kwanzaa to uphold the traditions of African culture in the Hudson Valley. The community-wide event helps bring together families, friends and neighbors to pay homage to the first harvest. The BHC chose the 4th day of Kwanzaa, Ujamaa, which represents the principal of Cooperative Economics to hold this year’s celebration.

Sadie Tallie, President of the BHC, which was started in 1957, says, “Many people mistakenly believe that Kwanzaa is a replacement for celebrating Christmas and that is an entirely erroneous belief. Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday. It’s our responsibility to educate the community and help build community through our traditions.”

Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community. These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles.

Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits” in Swahili, takes place each year during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

These seven principles comprise Kawaida, a Swahili term for tradition and reason. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles, as follows:

•Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

•Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

•Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.

•Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

•Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

•Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

•Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Kwanzaa symbols include a decorative mat (Mkeka) on which other symbols are placed, corn (Muhindi) and other crops, a candle holder kinara with seven candles (Mishumaa Saba), a communal cup for pouring libation (Kikimbe cha Umoja), gifts (Zawadi), a poster of the seven principles, and a black, red, and green flag. The symbols were designed to convey the seven principles.

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