From five-year-old Trinity Moore’s stirring rendition of “What a Wonderful World”, to the lighting of candles and the performing of libation by husband and wife, Dr. Eric and Emily Wickham, last weekend’s Kwanzaa celebration was a progressive and uplifting experience for the audience.
African-American author, political activist and educator, Ron Karenga, created Kwanzaa as a weeklong celebration honouring African heritage and culture, culminating in a feast and gift giving.
Former African Canadian Heritage Association (ACHA) president, Louis March, said Kwanzaa is a way of life that transcends the Christmas holiday season.
“It’s important to celebrate Kwanzaa because it talks to an Afrocentric tradition where we promote and celebrate family, community, faith and creativity among other things,” he said. “These are the things that are important to us as a people that we sort of lose in this festive Christmas season. Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday. It’s really about celebrating those things that are traditionally critical. We seem to have lost those things while trying to fit into the Western world’s way of doing things.”
Young people took part in drumming, a Kwanzaa feast and workshops of their choice to mark the celebration, which was started as a means to help Blacks reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage.
“It’s vital that the youths are involved because they seldom learn about Kwanzaa from their families or in their classrooms,” said March. “This is a space to showcase Kwanzaa and in the process educate our young people.”
Originally launched as the Black Heritage Association, the organization changed to its current name in 1992 to preserve its unique identity following the establishment of several Black heritage programs across the city.
ACHA has organized the event for the last 25 years.
“We have been consistently and continually doing this celebration over that period,” said March. “This is our way of saying thanks to the community because our program is community supported.”