Sankofa Arts Center welcomes Kwanzaa event

Don and Delores Blakey, with a Kwanzaa display of fruit and candles, say Kwanzaa is a time for self-reflection and a chance to enter the new year with a renewed understanding of oneself and purpose. (Delaware State News/Dave Chamber)

Don and Delores Blakey, with a Kwanzaa display of fruit and candles, say Kwanzaa is a time for self-reflection and a chance to enter the new year with a renewed understanding of oneself and purpose. (Delaware State News/Dave Chamber)

DOVER — Kwanzaa, an African American “celebration of life and achievement,” begins today with an evening event at the Inner City Cultural League’s Sankofa Arts Center.

The holiday — unaffiliated with any religion — is a weeklong event taking place the last week of every year since its inception in 1966 by Maulana Kerenga, an activist and author.

Tonight’s event will focus on the history and principles of Kwanzaa and will also feature performances by the Sankofa dancers and drummers.

“It’s an event to kick off the seven days of Kwanzaa and after this celebration, people can practice the next six days at home by themselves or with family and friends,” said event organizer and former state Rep. Don Blakey, of Dover.

The celebration was spurred by Dr. Kerenga, a professor at California State University-Long Beach, in 1966 in the wake of the Black Freedom Movement.

It started as a program for pride-building in the African American community and Dr. Kerenga modeled it after actions taken by Julius Nyerere, the first non-militant president of post-colonial Tanzania.

Don Blakey, of Dover, said the principles of Kwanzaa will be reviewed at the celebration. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Don Blakey, of Dover, said the principles of Kwanzaa will be reviewed at the celebration. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa focuses on a different principle including umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity) and imani (faith).

“We will go over the principles of Kwanzaa and how they apply to everyday life at the celebration,” Mr. Blakey said. “People will also have the opportunity to speak about what Kwanzaa means to them and how the principles apply to their own life.”

A highlight of the discussion will be the lighting of the first candle of Kwanzaa in the kinar — a holder for the seven candles representing each day and principle of Kwanzaa.

After the discussion and performances, food including traditional African cuisine will be served during the harambee, or gathering.

“It’s going to be fun and will be a good chance to focus on progress within our community,” Mr. Blakey said. “And hopefully people will leave with a better understanding of Kwanzaa — that it’s a time for self-reflection and a chance to enter the new year with a renewed understanding of oneself and purpose.”

The Kwanzaa Celebration is at 7 tonight at the Inner City Cultural League Sankofa Arts Center at 39 S. West St. in Dover. It is free and open to the public.

Free-will donations and covered dishes for the harambee are encouraged.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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