CM2The Umoja Group Incorporated presents “Kwanzaa 2016” on Saturday, Dec. 31, from 5 - 8 p.m. at the Smith Recreation Center at Seabrook Park.  

“The purpose of the event is to celebrate Kwanzaa, bring the community together, share information about African-American culture and to learn about the seven principles of Kwanzaa, which people can live by every day,” said Wanda Wesley, board member of the Umoja Group. “The seven principles are Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani.” These translate to Day 1. Umoja means unity. Day 2. Kujichagulia means self-determination. Day 3. Ujima means working together. Day 4. Ujamaa means supporting each other. Day 5. Nia means purpose. Day 6. Kuumba means creativity. Day 7. Imani means faith, especially faith in ourselves.

Wesley added that for each one of the principles they try to find an African-American person who exemplifies that principle. During the candlelight ceremony, a child will light a candle in honor of the person and share a little bit of information about the individual. They try to add different people who you do not hear about every day and have done great things to impact their local community and the African-American culture. 

The Umoja Group awards a scholarship each year to a high school senior in the E. E. Smith attendance area. “Our last Kwanzaa was January 1, 2016, and we gave Tyee Thomas a $1,000 scholarship, and she is now a freshman at Fayetteville State University,” said Wesley. “This year, on December 31, we are giving a $1,000 scholarship to a senior at E. E. Smith named Arianna Harmon.” Wesley added that the Umoja Group finds recipients for the scholarship through recommendations from the high school and they look at students who are actively involved in the community, support Kwanzaa events and have already taking steps to beautify the community.   

The program features a drum call, a unity song, sharing what Kwanzaa means, dancing, singing, the history of the Kwanzaa event, awarding of the scholarship, candlelight ceremony, a tribute to ancestors and the parade of kings and queens.  “Larry Johnson will portray Shaka Zulu and share the history on why Shaka is important,” said Wesley. “We will have little children participating as well as older people and seniors.” There will be a special section set aside like in a traditional African village where the elders can sit in an area of respect and honor as we value their knowledge, history and struggle.”                     

Bring your favorite dish to share and canned goods to donate to Operation Blessing.  Free books will be given to students and parents.  Admission is free. Donations are appreciated.  For more information, call 485-8035 or 527-2460.  

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