Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration at We Care, Inc. with Friends of Dean Park, Inc.

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Friends of Dean Park, Inc. presents a Kwanzaa Celebration

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Students at We Care, Inc.

A pre-Kwanzaa celebration was held at We Care, Inc. Thursday, December 12, 2019 sponsored by Friends of Dean Park, Inc. Minister Carnette Hudson is the administrator of We Care, Inc. There were 12 youth and 7 adults present for this after school tutoring program. The group enjoyed an interactive presentation led by this writer which was done in songs, discussions, questions and answers. The songs were taken from a Kwanzaa CD by Mxolisi and the Sankofa Singers which can be purchased from the internet. The group learned and sang two songs from the CD: Kwanzaa Time and Habari Gani?/Seven Days of Kwanzaa. The singing was enjoyed by adding African dance. All of the officers of Friends of Dean Park, Inc. attended this celebration which included Mary McWilliams, Sandra Howze, Christine Waldrip and Macilean Jordan. The food served was collard greens with smoked turkey, corn on the cob, chicken drumsticks, corn bread, sweet potato pies by Eddie Littleton and mango juice.

Kwanzaa is a week-long African and pan-African inspired celebration beginning December 26 – January 1 which promotes self-esteem, hope, pride and dignity. It was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of the Africana Studies, California State University, Long Beach, CA, who delivers a yearly message that is related to the yearly theme which can be found at the official site of Dr. Karenga stated in one of his messages, “Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense.” Kwanzaa is celebrated by millions of African Americans and Pan-Africans throughout the world. The theme for this year is Living Kwanzaa and the Seven Principles: An All-Seasons Celebration and Practice of the Good. In most places, Kwanzaa is celebrated daily by using one of the Seven Principles, Nguzo Saba (Swahili) as the focus for the day. The Nguzo Saba is as follows:

1) UMOJA (Unity) - To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

2) KUJICHAGULIA (Self-determination) - To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named, created for and spoken for by others.

3) UJIMA (Collective Work and Responsibility) - To build and maintain our community together and make our sister’s and brother’s problems our problem; and to solve them together.

4) UJAMAA (Cooperative Economics) - To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

5) NIA (Purpose) - To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

6) 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.

7) IMANI (Faith) - To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
As part of the celebration whether it is at home, church or in the community, cultural expressions are the entertainment for the day which include poetry, song, dance and drama. Food is generally collard greens, jerk chicken, beans, rice, okra, curry goat or chicken, sweet potatoes and many other foods that are much like southern/soul food. Oftentimes, there is a community pot of food that all gathers around and eat from. Ghanaian groundnut stew is a favorite.

Kwanzaa fashions consist of both African and African American Attire. Many designers, artisans and artists, often state that African fabrics are the most beautiful in the world. Ronke Luke-Boone, author of African Fabrics, Sewing Contemporary Fashion with Ethnic Flare, stated, “I am fascinated by the textiles and ornamental arts of native people around the world. The intricate details, the craftsmanship, the beauty of the work, and the stories the textiles and ornaments tell intrigues me. In many indigenous societies in Africa, Asia and South America, the choice of colors and motifs in a textile are not always arbitrary or purely aesthetic; they may have meaning and tell stories of everyday life’s struggles and joys.”

An African man, Emeaba Emeaba, contracted with McCall Patterns and designed numerous African patterns that made life easier for many seamstresses. Therefore, in the mid 90s African Attire became a permanent member of many wardrobes. It became all that this writer wore and all that many of my fellow church members wore in Berkeley, CA. Choirs, ushers, deacons, and clergymen switched their wear to African Attire. Sundays’ fashions were beautiful fashions from Benin, Ghana, Togo, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ivory Coast. The most popular African Fabrics: Mudcloth, Kuba, Korhogo Cloth, Fancy Prints, Wax Prints and Kente Cloth. Each student at We Care, Inc. was given a piece of African fabric as a Kwanzaa gift.

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Macileen Jordan and Christine Waldrip of Friends of Dean Park, Inc. with students at We Care, Inc.

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Sandra Howze and Mary McWilliams of Friends of Dean Park, Inc.

Submitted by: Elmetra Patterson