Tulsans gather for beginning of Kwanzaa
BY KENDRICK MARSHALL World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 27, 2012
12/27/12 at 8:11 AM
Participants should reflect on what has been accomplished while looking ahead to what's to come.
That was the message Egunwale Amusan hoped to relay Wednesday night during an annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Rudisill Regional Library.
Kwanzaa began in 1966 as an African-American holiday created by Maulana Karenga, who wanted to reaffirm the dignity of the community through seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
The seven day-celebration - with each day focusing on one of the principles - starts Dec. 26 and ends Jan. 1 and honors African culture.
Kwanzaa comes right after Christmas, but "this is not a substitute for Christmas," Amusan said. "This is a time where people can reflect on how much they accomplished. It is about developing a deep sense of culture and identity."
During the celebration, members of the community dressed in traditional African clothing and recited poetry, danced and performed songs. Those in attendance were encouraged to participate in the festivities.
Alicia Latimer, the Tulsa City-County Library's African-American Resource Center coordinator, said one of the most important aspects of Kwanzaa is to honor senior citizens.
Its purpose, she said, "is to celebrate the culture and promote the well-being of the family."
The event kicking off Kwanzaa in Tulsa has been held at the Rudisill library since 1998.
Candles are lit each day of the celebration on a candle holder, called a kinara, which features three green candles and three red candles with a black candle in the center.
Wednesday focused on Umoja, the Swahili word for unity, with those participating striving for unity in the family, community, nation and race.
"This is not just a U.S. holiday, even though it began here," said Amusan, who played the role of African chief during the event Wednesday. "It is about connecting with each other no matter where we are."
Latimer hopes that more people will support future Kwanzaa celebrations in an effort to further strengthen the community by applying the seven principles well after the holiday has concluded.
"It is very important that this is opened up and everyone is exposed to it," she said.
Kwanzaa's seven principles
Umoja (unity): Maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
Kujichagulia (self-determination): Define, name, create and speak for ourselves.
Ujima (collective work and responsibility): Build and maintain community together and solve problems as a group.
Ujamaa (cooperative economics): Build and maintain stores and shops and profit from them together.
Nia (purpose): Make building the community a collective vocation.
Kuumba (creativity): Do as much as possible to leave the community more beautiful and beneficial than before.
Imani (faith): Believe in our people, parents, teachers and leaders.
Kendrick Marshall 918-581-8386
Egunwale Amusan, playing the role of an African chief, lights a candle Wednesday night as elders Joyce Williams (from left), Beverly Washington and Ralph Hooks watch during a celebration of the first night of Kwanzaa at the Rudisill Regional Library. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Kwanzaa participants listen Wednesday night as Egunwale Amusan, playing the role of an African chief, leads the holiday's first-night ceremony at Rudisill Regional Library. JAMES GIBBARD/ Tulsa World