Kwanzaa Nashville begins Dec. 26

Jeneene Blackman and Kwame Lillard hold a Kinara at Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore. (photo by Kwanzaa Nashville)

Jeneene Blackman and Kwame Lillard hold a Kinara at Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore. (photo by Kwanzaa Nashville)

Kwanzaa is a cultural, not religious, celebration designed to reflect on the ending year and prepare for the New Year through reflection and rededication to cultural unity. Professor Maulana Karenga created the observance and organized the ritualistic aspects of the weeklong event and put them into place 50 years ago. Each year several groups in Nashville host gatherings to participate in this uniquely African American holiday tradition, coordinated by the Kwanzaa Nashville group.

The official theme for Kwanzaa 2016 is “Kwanzaa, the Nguzo Saba and Our Constant Striving: Repairing, Renewing and Remaking Our World.” Originally conceived as a means for African Americans to identify with African culture and reaffirm familial and extended family values, the holiday has expanded since its beginning. But at its core Kwanzaa is about celebrating blackness, and the best way to do that is to buy Kwanzaa gifts and paraphernalia from black-owned businesses, such as Alkebu-Lan Images, near Tennessee State University on the corner of 28th and Jefferson Streets.

Kwanzaa celebrates what Karenga called the Nguzo Saba (the seven principles of African Heritage), what he called “the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world.” These seven principles are observed sequentially the days following Christmas Day into New Years Day, as follows: Umoja (Unity) Dec 26; Kujichagulia (Self-determination) Dec. 27; Ujima (Collective work and responsibility) Dec 28; Ujamaa (Cooperative economics) Dec 29; Nia (Purpose) Dec 30; Kuumba (Creativity) Dec 31; and Imani (Faith) Jan. 1.

Kwanzaa Nashville celebrations begin Monday, Dec. 26 at 7 pm with UMOJA Night featuring Sankofa African Drum and Dance Company at the Nashville School of the Arts, 1250 Foster Avenue, Nashville 37210; admission $10, $5 (seniors & children 6-12), ages 5 & under Free.

Celebrate KUJICHAGULIA (self-determination) with the African American Cultural Alliance from 6-9 pm Tuesday, Dec. 27 at St. Luke CME Church at 2008 28th Avenue North. The event is potluck; bring a covered dish for the Karamu (feast).

The third day, pursue and meditate on UJIMA (collective work and responsibility) at 5 pm on Wednesday, Dec. 28, with music, exhibits, dance, art, storytelling, food and other culturally rich activities at The Temple Church, 3810 Kings Lane, Nashville 37218.

The fourth day (UJAMAA) celebrates black entrepreneurs in Nashville at UJAMAA BLACK BUSINESS EXPO at Manna From Heaven, 3510 West Hamilton Avenue, Nashville 37218 from 4-9 pm on Thursday, Dec. 29 to benefit Nashville’s YOUTH ABOUT BUSINESS, organized by Alkebu-lan Images and The Hub for Urban Entrepreneurship.

The Fifth day of Kwanzaa focuses on NIA (Purpose), giving attention to preserving our culture, at Westwood Baptist Church, 2510 Albion Street, Nashville 37208 on Thursday, Dec. 29 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

KUUMBA will be at The Village Church, 301 Madison Street, Madison, TN 37013, Friday, December 31 from 6-9 pm. Suggested donation is $5.00 or a coat for the needy.

The 7th day of Kwanzaa (IMANI-Faith), closes out the week and starts the New Year at Napier Community Center, 73 Fairfield Avenue, Nashville 37210, Sunday, January 1, 2017 from 6-9 pm, with an Imani Cypher Finale celebrating who we are as African People via Spoken Word, Music and Community, organized by Televise the Movement.

All events are FREE and open to the public, except on Monday and Friday. See the Kwanzaa Nashville Facebook page, or email: for details on all events and updates.

dsc_5817Kwanzaa Nashville 2016 Event Calendar

Dec. 26
UMOJA (Unity)
Sankofa African Drum and Dance Night Umoja Concert
Nashville School of the Arts, 1250 Foster Ave. Nash., Tn.  37210 7 PM: $10.00 admission

Dec. 27      
KUJICHAGULIA (Self-Determination)
African American Cultural Alliance (AACA)
St Luke CME Church, 2008 28th Ave. N. Nash., Tn. 37208, 6-9 PM: Free

Dec. 28      
UJIMA (Collective Work and Responsibility)
Community Kwanzaa Celebration
The Temple Church, 3810 Kings Ln. Nash., Tenn. 37218, 5 PM: Free

Dec.  29     
(Cooperative Economics)
Ujamaa Black Business Expo
Manna From Heaven (Youth about Business), 3510 W. Hamilton Ave. Nash., Tn. 37218, 4-9 PM: Free

Dec. 30
NIA (Purpose)
Purpose Through Culture (STCC)
Westwood Baptist Church, 2510 Albion ST Nash., Tn. 37208 6-8 PM: Free

Dec. 31      
KUUMBA (Creativity)
Kuumba Night
The Village Church, 301 Madison St. Madison, Tn. 37115 6-9 PM: $5.00 donation or coat donation

Jan. 1          
IMANI (Faith)
Imani Cypher
Napier Community Center, 73 Fairfield Ave.  Nash., Tn. 37210, 6-9 PM: Free

For more information, contact  <kwanzaanashville>