Kwanzaa founder to start events in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH – Dr. Maulana Karenga, founder of the Kwanzaa holiday, will kick off the Pittsburgh area Kwanzaa celebration at a special lecture Dec. 26 at 7 p.m. in Carnegie Music Hall.


Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan African celebration of values that strengthen individuals, families, and communities. Tickets for Karenga’s lecture are $10 and available by calling 412 394-3353, or can be purchased from Dorsey’s Record Shop, at 412-731-6607, or at the door.


Karenga will speak on “The Principles and Practice of Kwanzaa: Bringing Good into the World.” Karenga will conduct the initial ceremonies for Kwanzaa. The celebration continues at other venues throughout the city through Jan. 1.


Karenga set out in 1966 to create a holiday that would give African Americans a chance to explore and appreciate their own heritage. Looking to African cultures for inspiration, Karenga discovered traditional harvest festivals, which had been celebrated by African peoples since the time of the ancient Egyptians.


These traditional festivals not only celebrated the harvest, but they were also feasts of thanksgiving and rededication. Using the African festivals as models, Karenga created Kwanzaa, which in Swahili means “first fruits.”


Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration of the universal values these African festivals honor: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Participants rededicate themselves to one of these principles each day.


Karenga will begin a celebration that will continue on the following six nights at different venues in the city. Each event will bring people together for an evening of poetry, jazz, dance, and film. Some of the events are free.


For the complete schedule, call the Kuumba Trust at 412-321-5194.

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