Kwanzaa program honors ancestors, embraces youth

Khemya MitRahina (second from left) is shown with her drummers. Chair Brenda Andrews is shown at the podium.
PHOTOS BY JEROLINE D. MCCARTHY/DAYTONA TIMES

A recent Kwanzaa event put on by the Cultural Committee of the African American Cultural Society (AACS) focused on a cultural celebration of African Americans and others in the Diaspora.

It grounded the seven principles of Kwanzaa (the Nguzo Saba), created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga: Umoja (Unity), Kugichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).

Kwanzaa – adapted by the California professor – belongs to the Swahili language, meaning “First Fruits of the Harvest.”

The cultural aspect was a vendors’ marketplace, offering something for every member of the audience.

Tribute to ancestors

It embraced a libation honoring the ancestors, and moved the next generation forward.

“We have to support them (the younger generation), encourage them, and show them that they are worth a lot more than what society may impart to them,” singer Cheryl Few said just prior to scaling “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

Recognizing the ancestors to be the wind beneath our wings, cultural chair Brenda Andrews affirmed that “they suffered to get us where we are today – and we need to make sure their journey was not in vain.”

Young Edwina Brown noted that “Kwanzaa is the only nationally recognized African American – non-heroic, non-religious – community celebration that emphasizes the traditional spirit of the African community.”

Ceremony and dance

A candle, symbolizing each principle of Kwanzaa, is lit for the period of Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

Lighting the mishumaa saba (the seven candles) – and explaining each Kwanzaa principle – was a group of young people: Auriel Burnett, Giovanni Sylvain, Shaunte’ White, and Lauren Esnnason.

Just 4 U Production members danced to “24K Magic,” influenced by the genre of hip-hop music, created in the 1970s by African Americans.

Performing the dance was a set of young people: Samira Taite- Headspeth, Nia Felton, Mia Felton, and Oslyn Bryant.

Teacher/dancer Khemya MitRahina shared the Black experience, accompanied by her Pan- Afrakan Drummers, and orchestrating the historical significance in their craft – with a call and response to African music – and citing dancer Katherine Dunham making her first pilgrimage to Haiti, and training the teachers of her day in African dance at the colleges.

Tony Cezair is a steel drums instructor, instituting the first class of youth and adults for the African American Cultural Society. Later, the steel drums became part of the activities at the local Matanzas High School.

Cezair produced a one-man show, playing Trinidad and Tobago’s national instrument – until his performance became a grand finale through dance with MitRahina and folks from the audience.

Andrews’ Cultural Committee, celebrating African Americans, engaged her members: Eileen Hopson, Barbara Solomon, Leuwhana Sylvain, Janice Williams and Meshella Woods.

Dwyer to speak at MLK event

The tradition commemorating the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will take place Jan. 21, 11 a.m., at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 156 Florida Park Drive North, Palm Coast.

It will feature keynote speaker Marc Emerson Dwyer, family law attorney and an elder and singer at his church.

The annual tradition of presenting the ecumenical service is sponsored by Chapter 2 of the New York City Transit Retirees of Florida.

For further details, call 386-503-9414.

Unity service set for Jan. 19

Organized by Dr. Chau Phan, the 10th Flagler Ecumenical Celebration of Unity in Prayer and Song will link choirs and bands to participate in the event.

That’s Jan. 19, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., at Santa Maria del Mar Catholic Church – 915 North Central Ave., Flagler Beach.

If you’d like your local choir to participate, contact Lynne Mc- Cabe at MnLMcCabe@gmail.com.
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As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted, the prodigal son, or daughter, and the bereaved.

Celebrations

Birthday wishes to Miriam Pincham, Jan. 10; Marva Jones, Jan. 11; and Joshua Litkett, Jan. 15.

Happy anniversary to the Rev. and Mrs. Woodrow Leeks, Jan. 10.

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