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CTY kwanzaa27p Rolita Noble uses a cup of water for the libation ceremony to honor ancestors, during the annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Frederick Douglass Community Center in Toledo.
Rolita Noble uses a cup of water for the libation ceremony to honor ancestors, during the annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Frederick Douglass Community Center in Toledo.
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Published: Saturday, 12/28/2013 - Updated: 11 months ago

CELEBRATING FAMILY, CULTURE, COMMUNITY

Kwanzaa festivities shift location; spirit of holiday stays true

BY MARLENE HARRIS-TAYLOR
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mariah Gordon, 5, plays a tam-bourine during the celebration. Mariah Gordon, 5, plays a tam-bourine during the celebration.
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Toledo’s Kwanzaa celebration has moved to a new location this year: the Frederick Douglass Community Center.

Kwanzaa is observed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 by some African-Americans to honor their African heritage and celebrate family, community, and culture.

“I think most people don’t understand Kwanzaa. People think it’s religious and it’s not,”said Donald Lynn, a member of the Toledo Kwanzaa House Committee.

The group has organized the local celebration for seven years and one of its members, Diane Gordon, has held Kwanzaa celebrations in Toledo since the holiday’s creation in 1966, Mr. Lynn said.

Kwanzaa events have been moved from the Wayman Palmer YMCA to the Douglass Center, 1001 Indiana Ave., in hopes of increasing participation, which Mr. Lynn said has waned in recent years. At least 60 people attended opening festivities Thursday night, Mr. Lynn said, which was an uptick from last year.

Nightly events will run from 6:55 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Jan. 1.

There are seven principles of Kwanzaa, celebrated on each day of the holiday. They are:

● Umoja: Unity.

● Kujichagulia: Self-determination.

● Ujima: Collective work and responsibility.

● Ujamaa: Cooperative economics.

● Nia: Purpose.

● Kuumba: Creativity.

● Imani: Faith.

Antonio Moore Oxner, 11, left,  and Tristan Headrick, 7, play instruments as part of the festivities. The cele-bration continues today. Antonio Moore Oxner, 11, left, and Tristan Headrick, 7, play instruments as part of the festivities. The cele-bration continues today.
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Tonight’s focus will be “Ujima,” and the event will begin with African drummers “calling the village together” in the gym where the celebration is held, Mr. Lynn said. The audience is invited to participate with bells, whistles, and tambourines.

Then someone from the audience will be asked to be the honorary elder for the evening. The elder is asked permission for the event to officially begin.

“We do a libation, which is a fundamental part of program,” he said.

During the libation, a cup filled with liquid is poured out in remembrance of those who have gone before, and audience members are asked to speak the names of people they want to remember, he said.

The event also features the lighting of candles that represent the different value principles of Kwanzaa; a cultural expression in the form of a song, a rap, a dance, or poetry, and a speaker who focuses on the principle of the night.

Kwanzaa’s final night features a big feast, to which people bring dishes for what is one of the holiday’s most popular days.

“It’s usually a big spread with curry chicken and greens, and a lot of people do vegetarian dishes because one of the values emphasized throughout the event is healthy eating,” Mr. Lynn said.

More information can be found on the group’s Facebook page: facebook.com/​toledo.kwanzaahouse

Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at: mtaylor@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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