Dec 26, 2004 – Sixty Crucians gathered at the Cultural Community Center just north of Frederiksted Sunday evening to kick off a celebration of Kwanzaa.
Speakers related the importance of the holiday, which came about as a result of the Watts Riot in 1964, in drawing people together of African descent.
The words repeated by speakers were unity, family and village.
Neb KaRa, known also as Carl Christopher, said, "Kwanzaa has a purpose, something to achieve. This is about who we are as a people and what we have to do to uplift ourselves."
He emphasized that the basic foundation of unity was the family mother, father and children. He said when that unit suffered the whole village suffered.
He added, "We are one people. We came from one place. We have much in common."
Etherero Akinshegun spoke about the history of Kwanzaa. He said it was not a "Black Christmas," that Africans did not want something that was not their's. He said it was about recapturing the knowledge and spirituality of their ancient culture and ancestors. He said the celebration was about "People freeing themselves from things that keep them from who they are." Most African culture was based on collectivism and egalitarianism and clashed with the individualistic and capitalist cultures of the West that they were forced into.
He noted that the various organizations on St. Croix that had discussed unity at the last Kwanzaa celebration needed to rededicate themselves to that effort.
Dr. Chenzira Kahina, one of the organizers, emphasized cultural expressions during the event. She said this customarily was what village life was based upon.
Responding to that call, a couple ladies read poems and another told a story. Most of the entertainment was done with the accompaniment of drums.
Kahina said that most events sponsored by Per Ankh drew more females, but she was pleased with the "excellent" turnout of males for this occasion. Per Ankh, also known as the House of Life, moved into the Cultural Community Center last spring where courses in Yoga and holistic medicine are offered.
Kwanzaa lasts seven days, with specific principles celebrated each day. The first, Sunday, was the celebration of unity. Principles celebrated in order this week are self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
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