Kwanzaa is a 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 week-long event and put them into place over 50 years ago. Each year several groups in Nashville host gatherings to participate in this uniquely African American holiday tradition. The official theme for Kwanzaa 2017 is Practicing the Principles of Kwanzaa: 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 (originally Nguzu Saba—the seven principles of African Heritage), consisting of what he called “the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world.”
These seven principles are observed sequentially for 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 celebrations in Nashville begin on Tuesday, Dec. 26 at 7:00 pm with Umoja Night — Black Unity Matters — featuring a Sankofa African Drum & Dance Concert at the Nashville School of the Arts, 1250 Foster Ave-nue, Nashville 37210; admission $10.
On Wednesday, Dec 27, the African American Cultural Alliance 35th Annual Community Kwanzaa Celebration will be held from 6-9 pm at St. Luke CME Church at 2008 28th Avenue North, near the Ted Rhodes Golf Course. Come enjoy food, dance, music, arts and crafts; the event is potluck, so be sure to bring a covered dish for the Karamu (feast).
On Thursday, Dec. 28 the Save TSU Community Coalition and the Great Debate Honor Society present The Great Debate at Clark Memorial Methodist Church, located at 1014 – 14th Avenue North, from 6-9 pm. The topic for The Great Debate will be “TSU should be awarded land-grant reparations and a world-class Africana Studies department to overcome a century of arrested development and cultural alienation.
On Friday, Dec. 29, Youth About Business will present a Ujamaa Black Business Expo from 4-9 pm, hosted by Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore.
NIA House Montessori School hosts the Nia program, “Restoring Greatness in Your Child ,” from 11am – 2pm on Saturday, Dec. 30 at The Ray of Hope Church, 2311 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, 37217; with lunch from 11am – Noon; Session 1 programs from Noon – 1pm on Effective communication, or African drum and dance, or Martial Arts; and Session 2 programs from 1-2pm on Advocacy, or Envision Family, or African drum and dance; you should RSVP by December 26 for this program.
The Kuumba Fest – writers’ BLOCK – program featuring music, art and fashion, runs from 5:00-8:00 pm on Sunday, Dec. 31 at the YAB Center, 3510 West Hamilton Avenue, Nashville 37218; this event requires a $5 admission donation.
The Kwanzaa Imani Cypher Finale is at Napier Community Center, 73 Fairfield Ave., Nashville 37210 from 5:30-8:00 pm on Monday, January 1, 2018.
All events are free and open to the public, except on Tuesday and Sunday. See the Kwanzaa Nashville Facebook page for details on all events and updates.