West Edition

Kwanzaa celebration begins with Leimert Park parade

LEIMERT PARK — A parade, festival and dusk candle-lighting ceremony were some of the activities held Dec. 26 to mark the start of the seven-day African-American festival of Kwanzaa.

The KwanZaa Gwaride Parade, themed “A Helping Hand,” was held in the morning, starting at Adams and Crenshaw boulevards. The procession headed south on Crenshaw to Leimert Park, where the festival was already underway. It culminated with a dusk candlelighting ceremony.

Pasadena is celebrating Kwanzaa Dec. 27 with its 30th annual Kwanzaa celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pasadena Public Library’s La Pintoresca Branch.

Thanayi Karenga, daughter of Kwanzaa creator Maulana Karenga, will lead the event, which will include music, stories and refreshments provided by the Pasadena Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. The Tournament of Roses Royal Court is scheduled to make an appearance.

Maulana Karenga, chair of Africana Studies at Cal State Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966 in what he called “an audacious act of self-determination.”

The 2018 theme of Kwanzaa is “Reimagining and Remaking the World: A Kwanzaa Commitment to an Inclusive Good.”

“At the very heart and center of the celebration of Kwanzaa is the ethical imperative and social obligation of the cooperative creation and sharing of an inclusive good,” Karenga wrote in his annual founder’s message.

“This principle and related practice are rooted in its ancient origins in the African harvest and the communitarian worldview and way of life that undergirded and informed it,” the founder said. “The ancient roots of Kwanzaa in the shared African harvest and the celebration of it, immediately bring to mind the sacred teachings given to us by our honored ancestors in the Odu Ifa which tells and teaches us we are to constantly strive and struggle to bring good into the world, share it and not let any good be lost.”

Kwanzaa’s focus is the “Nguzo Saba,” the Seven Principles — unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

During the week, a candelabrum called a Kinara is lit, and ears of corn representing each child in the family are placed on a traditional straw mat.

African foods such as millet, spiced pepper balls and rice are often served. Some people fast during the holiday and a feast is often held on its final night.

A flag with three bars — red for the struggle for freedom, black for unity and green for the future — is sometimes displayed during the holiday.

Kwanzaa is based on the theory of Kawaida, which espouses that social revolutionary change for black America can be achieved by exposing blacks to their cultural heritage.