Maulana Karenga, the founder of Kwanzaa, is scheduled this week to make an appearance in Buffalo to mark the city’s annual observance of the holiday, which traditionally begins on the day after Christmas and runs through New Year’s Day.
Kwanzaa, a Swahili word, is a nonreligious holiday that is observed over seven days, with each day devoted to one of seven guiding principles: umoja, or unity; kujichagulia, or self-determination; ujima, or collective work and responsibility; ujamaa, or cooperative economics; nia, or purpose; kuumba, or creativity; and imani, or faith. All are based on values prevalent in cultures throughout Africa.
At each of the venues hosting activities over the first six nights of Kwanzaa, an African Marketplace of local vendors will be featured as part of the festivities.
The opening night celebration kicks off at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Buffalo Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts, 450 Masten Ave., and will feature performances by Healing Hands, a local troupe of percussionists and dancers, and Tradition Keepers: Black Storytellers of Western New York.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, the festivities move to the Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway, where Karenga will deliver the founder’s message, as he has done nearly every year in Buffalo since the 1970s. The former University of California, Long Beach, professor first launched the African cultural holiday in 1966. Along with Karenga, the African-American Cultural Center Dancers and Drummers are scheduled to appear.
Dr. Ma’at E. Lewis, a licensed clinical psychologist who practices in New York City, will be the keynote speaker for the third night of Kwanzaa activities, which are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Friday in the Edward Saunders Community Center, 2777 Bailey Ave. Scheduled to perform are the Daughters of Creative Sound, Njozi Poets and Drea D’Nur.
A special Children’s celebration of Kwanzaa is planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Delavan-Grider Community Center, 877 E. Delavan Ave. Guest performers include Watoto from the Nile, the Crusaders Drill Team and MGT Vanguard.
An evening program will begin at 7 p.m. in the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library, 1424 Jefferson Ave., and will feature a performance by Pappi Martin and the Love Supreme Orchestra, a panel discussion hosted by the Black Chamber of Commerce of Western New York, and poetry by Taharka Odinga.
Nutritionist Dr. Alim Muhammad of the Nation of Islam will be the keynote speaker for the fifth night of Kwanzaa. The program starts at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Delavan-Grider Community Center, and will feature a performance by the Old School B-Boys and poetry by Seku Ba.
A community potluck meal, or the Karamu Feast, will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. New Year’s Eve in the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt St. Participants are encouraged to bring a dish to share. An open-mic night is also planned.
The final day of Kwanzaa on New Year’s Day is traditionally reserved for at-home celebrations. No public celebrations are scheduled that day.