7 Days of Kwanzaa


In 1966, Dr. Maulana Karenga encouraged black America to step away from the commercialization of Christmas. He created a holiday to recognize the heritage of people stranded from their lineage and wrapped up in consumerism, and over 40 years later, Savannahians have embraced Kwanzaa as an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to themselves, their families and their community. Dr. Mildred McClain has been celebrating the holiday in Savannah since 1988. “This year and every year is one of the most significant African-American holidays celebrated nationally,” she says.

From December 26 through December 31, the Family Resource Center on Anderson Street will hold several events and activities in observation of Kwanzaa in what McClain describes as a weeklong party. Upon arrival, participants will chant East African Swahili greetings to observe the seven principles of the holiday—Unity (Umoja), Self- Determination (Kujichagulia), Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima), Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa), Purpose (Nia), Creativity (Kuumba) and Faith (Imani).

Other highlights include drumming, singing, poetry, performances by storyteller Jamal Toure, the Abaraka ballet dance troupe and members of Sankofa dance community, as well as workshops from Brenda Walker of Ultimate Magazine.

For those who might feel distant from this holiday, McClain has one thing to say: “Even though Kwanzaa is a celebration that lifts up contributions and achievements of an enslaved people, the principles that are celebrated during are applicable to anybody, and therefore come out and celebrate, have fun, learn, enjoy yourself—eat, drink and be merry.”