“We’re just individuals in the community that come together and want to celebrate Kwanzaa in our community,” said Palmdale resident Laneay London.
The event, now in its third year, was founded by Nannette Barrie, who relocated from the San Francisco Bay area, found no Kwanzaa celebrations in the Antelope Valley, and decided to start her own.
“I just felt like we needed to do it,” said Barrie.
“No one gave us permission and we didn’t ask permission; we just saw a need and filled the need,” said guest speaker Jaamal Brown. “I think that’s what we need more in our community, folks stepping out and manifesting positive things that represent the best of who we are.”
Kwanzaa, an annual week-long festival that takes place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture, which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people, according to literature distributed at the event.
The seven values are called Nguzo Saba, which is Swahili for the seven principles. Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the seven principles.
- Umoja (Unity)
- Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
- Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
- Nia (Purpose)
- Kuumba (Creativity)
- Imani (Faith)
Tuesday’s local celebration fell on the second day of Kwanzaa; therefore, the event was dedicated to Kujichagulia (Swahili for ‘self-determination’).
“It’s about defining ourselves for ourselves,” said Brown.
The event began with opening remarks by Barrie and Willie Jenkins, followed by the singing of the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Customary to Kwanzaa celebrations, there was a ceremonial candle lighting and then the pouring of tambiko (libation) to ancestors.
The program closed with the traditional Harambee Chant (pulling together, working together).