Blacks Celebrate Faith, Spirituality in Kwanzaa Events

Article excerpt

African-Americans here will begin celebrating Kwanzaa today, along with black Americans nationwide.

Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday nor a substitute for Christmas. It encourages spirituality and faith while combining traditional African practices and symbols with the hopes, ideals, realities and creativity of African-Americans.

DeBorah Ahmed is director for programs and administration for Better Family Life Inc., a nonprofit group that promotes Kwanzaa here. Ahmed said Kwanzaa is steadily gaining popularity in the St. Louis area as more African-Americans learn about the holiday.

To keep the momentum going, Better Family Life is sponsoring three Kwanzaa events to be held today, Thursday and Saturday.

A Kwanzaa Ritual of Regeneration and Nation Building performance will be held at 7:30 p.m. today at the Center for Contemporary Arts, 524 Trinity Avenue, University City. Admission is $10 for adults in advance and $13 at the door. For children 12 and under, admission is $7 in advance, $8 at the door.

The performance, by the Rhythms in Anoa Dance Theatre, tells the story of how elders pass down nation-building skills to younger generations in traditional African society.

The transgenerational message also includes the seven principles of Kwanzaa - unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

At the start of the performance, African-Americans will learn about Kwanzaa, which means "first fruits" in Swahili. The holiday is traditionally celebrated Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, head of the Department of Black Studies at California State University. …