Kwanzaa’s first day kicks off with unity-themed activities at Bordeaux Market |

st. Thomas — From mat-making workshops to tea drinking to boardwalk walks to sun salutations, this Kwanzaa season honors African heritage and reflects families, communities, and cultures that can be incorporated throughout the year. We offer a variety of activities to do.

Proposed in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of Africana studies at California State University, the week-long holiday is celebrated from today until January 1st of each year.

This year’s international theme is “Kwanzaa, Culture, Freedom in Practice”.

Since the 1970s, Virgin Islands organizers have adopted this ritual at home and at large community gatherings. Kwanzaa’s daily life is based on the guiding principles collectively known as Nuguzo Sabah. Participants will find ways to practice Umoja or Unity. kujichaglia or self-determination; ujima or collaboration and responsibility; ujamaa or cooperative economics. Nia or Purpose; Kumba or Creativity. and Imani or Faith.

“There are people in the Virgin Islands who think we are all different, but we are one,” said Jalib Bobo, organizer of the African Diaspora Youth Development Foundation, saying the event was a great way to see who He added that it is open to all religions and backgrounds, regardless of who they are. Muslim, or Rastafarian, or from other Caribbean islands. “You didn’t see it when we had Kwanzaa. That’s what Kwanzaa is for all year round…you bring people together with a common goal. Not a party. Religious.” It’s not a ritual, it’s an educational thing.”

The foundation usually has one of its big celebrations on the first day of Kwanzaa. Since the 1970s they have patterned events in a similar style. Bobo especially remembers Uhuru and Rwandan Ridge, which were set to occur when the power went out, led by the late Nabu Eddy Bobo. The night was still impressive by the flickering of candlelight. Poems by Langston Hughes read among the shadows, unplugged concerts by the Mandingo Brass, and African dancers directing the courtyard space of the Grand Galleria in St. Thomas. , she said, was a time that brought together more than 200 people across the region, from fashion to live music to community feasts and black business expositions.

Today at 11:00 am at the Bordeaux Market in collaboration with We Grow Food, Inc. Echo People Drumming, Agriculture, Young and Old Reports, Fashion Show, Presentation of the Ankh Prize, Kalam or Feast by Ras Nashamba I, and Evening musical entertainment.

The Kwanzaa celebration has gained wider popularity since it began as a quiet family gathering, but participation has dwindled due to the hurricane and pandemic, said a member of the Pan-African Support Group that hosts the activity. said Leva Ora Nii. Second day of celebration.

“This is an annual cultural tradition that brings our families, communities and friends together for a celebratory occasion,” he said. “We give thanks and praise to our Creator and ancestors, celebrate the achievements we have made over the years, and practice the seven values ​​of African culture and tradition, Nguzo Saba, to help our individual and collective I will make some resolutions or commitments to improve my life.”

For Marielle and Akiniemi Blake, who often drink at Kwanzaa gatherings and other events, the allure of the holiday is a chance to embrace African-centric traditions with relatives and the entire community.

“It’s not just about your personal family, it’s about your joint family and your ancestral family,” said Marielle Blake, a former educator who wrote a Kwanzaa play that students performed locally.

For several years they have hosted sunrise and sunset yoga meetings on the sixth day of Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve. They perform sun salutations, talk about the principles of creativity in a casual atmosphere, and promote spaces for envisioning and building the future.

“We wanted to provide something that was healthy and really represented what we are all coming together as a community,” she said. I did,” she said.

In St. Croix, Umoja Caribbean Union, Inc. also offers Kwanzaa the opportunity to connect with nature.

Organizer Shalima Edwards, with support from Anubian Sun and others, put together an activity honoring local plants. For example, she weaves mats out of coconut branches, and has a foot bath and tea with local plants with the help of a local vendor. The public is invited to join her to start conversations about everything from business strategy to health.

The workshop will be followed by an open mic for those wishing to share their talents on their instrument of choice to include conscious music across genres at Supreme Sound Systems.

For Edwards, the Kwanzaa draw was an alternative to the capitalist leanings of the holiday.

“When it came time to buy gifts, I understood the importance. I didn’t want to raise my children expecting to get gifts,” Edwards said. “We encourage people to get involved and experience at least the first day. ”

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