Gary library’s Kwanzaa celebration starts with first principles
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune corrrespondent December 26, 2013 11:38PM
Jonathan Boose, Jahsyl Mpingo, Roya Etienne, 4, and her mother Maya light the first candle on the Kinara which symbolizes Umoja (Unity) at Gary Public Library on December 26, 2013. | Jim Karczewski\For Sun-Times Media
At a glance
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of Africana Studies at California State University in Long Beach. It lasts from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.
The seven principles of Kwanzaa are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).
Updated: January 28, 2014 6:21AM
GARY — The Gary Public Library Board of Trustees hosted its fifth annual Kwanzaa Celebration on Thursday at the DuBois branch of the Gary Public Library, kicking off with the first of seven principles of Kwanzaa, Umoja, which is Swahili for unity.
Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means the first fruits in Swahili and is an African-American and pan-African event that celebrates family, community and culture.
Founded in 1966 by California State University professor Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa runs from Dec. 26-Jan. 1 and explores seven principles: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).
Gary Public Library Board of Trustees secretary Jonathan Boose coordinates the Kwanzaa celebration. He said it is highly important to not only honor and participate in Kwanzaa but to do so as a positive alternative to the negativity and violence that is spotlighted in black communities.
“We have to educate our youth on celebrating great things done by our ancestors and for us to come together as a people,” Boose said. “We have too much disrespect in our communities. We have too much violence and gang warfare and drugs and the mistreatment of girls and women.
“We have to celebrate our past and rebuild our future for greatness.”
Kwabena Sakidi Jijaga Rasuli of Gary added that one of the ways negativity and disrespect in the black communities can be removed is to get urban radio stations to stop playing misogynistic, violent and disrespectful music on the air that target the youth.
Rasuli is the creator of the “Clear the Airwaves Project” and conducts protest marches in front of media outlets and sponsors in Northwest Indiana and Chicago.
“Radio stations that target African youth in the Chicagoland area are force-feeding our people a poisonous audio diet laced with misogyny, murder, self-hate, stripping and more. We need all of you to get involved; families, churches, leaders,” he said.
“We need to promote the seven principles of Kwanzaa to our youth,” Rasuli continued. “Kwanzaa is not just for the end of the year, it is to be practiced every day. We need to fight to keep this poisonous music from filling our children’s ears and minds.”
Awards were given to the Rev. Jerry Protho of Unity Baptist Church in Gary and Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, Jr. for practicing the principles of Umoja (unity) and Ujamaa (cooperative economics) in Gary.
Allen said as a businessman who operates Guy and Allen Funeral Home, he conducts business with other black owned businesses and vendors.
“As a commissioner I negotiate contracts for the county and make sure there is equal opportunity for black vendors,” he said.
The celebration also included poetry from Kelechukwu Brnfre, live music from Keith Jackson and the Triple Dose Band, a soul food buffet and the lighting ceremony of the first of seven Kwanzaa candles.