07Umoja The Umoja Group, Inc. of Fayetteville presents its annual Kwanzaa Celebration this Saturday, Dec. 29, at Smith Recreation Center from 5–8 p.m. It’s a time to celebrate, reflect and learn.

Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits of the harvest,” was created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in the late 1960s. It is a celebration that honors African heritage in African- American culture, and it is observed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving.

“Kwanzaa is a secular event that celebrates culture, family and community,” said Wanda Wesley, a member of the Umoja Group. “We want to bring the community together to celebrate and learn about African kings and queens.”

The event will feature a candle-lighting ceremony, a libation to honor ancestors, a parade of kings and queens, singers, dancers, drummers and the presentation of the annual Umoja Group Scholarship.

The Association of Black Social Workers, Fayetteville/Cumberland County Chapter, will collect nonperishable food items, winter coats, hats and gloves to be donated to Operation Blessing.

The candle-lighting ceremony features seven candles in a kinara. Thecandles symbolize the seven principlesof Kwanzaa, which are unity, self determination,collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

The nonprofit organization has awarded $19,000 in scholarships since 1998. “We will be giving out two scholarships to two students,” said Wesley. “We are so happy to be able to give those scholarships out yearly.

“There is a surprise performance this year that everyone is sure to enjoy, so come out and experience it. Everyone is invited to bring their favorite dish and to dress in ethnic wear.”

The event is free and open to the public. Donations are appreciated and are tax deductible. For more information, call 910-485-8035 or email umojagroupfay@gmail.com.

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