Kwanzaa builds a community of connectiveness through celebrating African culture

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The South Bend Chapter Indiana Black Expo, Inc. will celebrate Kwanzaa, on Thursday, December 28, paying special tribute to African American roots on the third day of Kwanzaa in the spirit of ujima, meaning collective work and responsibility. 

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 as a non-religious observation of African Americans' ancestral roots.

The name comes from a Swahili phrase meaning "first fruits."

It celebrates seven core principles including creativity, collective responsibility, self-determination, faith and purpose.

Latorya Greene, President of the South Bend chapter of the Black Expo, says even though Kwanzaa is based on African principles, anyone can celebrate it. 

She seeks to bring understanding and draw awareness to the purpose of Kwanzaa. 

"It's about the community and coming together," said Greene.

To her, Kwanzaa is about celebrating African culture, building connectedness in the present and passing it on to the next generation.

"You know, none of this is going to survive if our next generation is not aware of it," she said. "How do we get the children more involved and getting them aware of this so that they themselves will start practicing it as well?" 

Similar to a Jewish menorah during Hanukkah, a candle is lit each night on the kinara.

The kinara holds seven candles, one black, three green and three red.

They represent the people, the struggle and the future, as well as the seven principles.

While lighting each candle, "you want to make sure that you share stories," said Greene.

In addition to the candles, a proper table setting with fruits, vegetable and artifacts is also important.

"Any artifacts that you may have, African artifacts, or maybe some personal gifts that you might have received, things like that to be able to have on the table as well," she said. 

Greene notes that Kwanzaa doesn't replace any other holiday, like Christmas or Hanukkah. Rather, it's its own celebration, building up to the New Year, to celebrate new beginnings in the new year. 

Learn more information about the South Bend chapter of the Black Expo's Kwanzaa event on their Facebook page. 

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