Jeremiah Cobb, 8, of Gary, Ind., lights a ceremonial candle that represents one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa at the DuBois Branch Library in Gary on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. | Jeff Addison~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 3, 2013 6:14AM
Gary Public Library Board member Jonathan Boose has celebrated Kwanzaa for years. On Dec. 27, with a partnership between the Gary Public Library and the United African Movement, a program honoring the seven-day celebration was conducted at the DuBois Branch.
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of African studies at California State University-Long Beach. Kwanzaa runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1; it is a cultural holiday and was created to reaffirm and restore the roots of African culture.
Kwanzaa also was established to reinforce the Nguzo Saba, or the Seven Principles: umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity) and imani (faith).
Boose said practicing the Nguzo Saba daily is encouraged.
“We are in a cultural vacuum where our communities are overwhelmed with violence and despair,” he said. “We have to use the seven principles to bring (them) back.”
Jahsil Mpingo of Gary has studied Kwanzaa with Karenga and said the nonreligious holiday was created to bring Africans and African-Americans together. He added that Gary does not have a collective values system that is positive.
“Cooperation and economic development does not exist here,” Mpingo said. “There’s corruption, politics and all about me, me, me. We sorely need to practice the seven principles every day. Our greatest gift is the gift of creativity.”
Ronald “Kwesi” Harris of Chicago performed the libations ceremony, which honors ancestors, from leaders and icons in black history to family members. Audience members participated by calling out names of their ancestors.
“We always honor and respect our elders, for they are the reasons we stand here today,” he said.
Robert Campbell of Gary talked about the second day-principle of Kwanzaa (Dec. 27), kujichagulia.
“When you have self-determination, no one can destroy you,” he said. “When you have self-determination, everything else falls into place. In order to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself first.”
Todd McCain of Gary said the community must talk less and become more active to improve it.
“We need to act on the seven principles 24 hours a day,” he said.