Habari Gani, or ‘What’s the news’ is a common Swahili greeting among those celebrating Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a non-religious holiday honoring African American culture, family, community, and history. It was created in 1966 by Maulana Ron Karenga – an African American scholar and activist. Karenga became discouraged and saddened by the social and economic struggles of African Americans in the 1960s. The ceremonies of Kwanzaa are based upon the principle that lasting social change for black Americans will come about through the celebration of their cultural heritage – helping to unite a diverse people in the spirit of family and community. In cities all over the country, various events take place during the seven days between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Each day of the celebration is geared toward one of seven unique principles and includes a discussion of how to better incorporate each respective principle into one’s daily life.
I was fortunate to attend such an event at Hiberian Hall in Roxbury, MA. The particular principle for the day was Ujima. Ujima means collective work and responsibility. Along the edge of the hall were vendors selling African-inspired jewelry, clothing, and other items. The main activity was song, poetry, and dance by a group called Origination. The youth group is composed of kids from ages 2-18 who specialize in African performance art. Take a look at some photos of the celebration in the gallery below.