Another outstanding public Kwanzaa ceremony was held at the Washington Branch Library on Monday December 29th by the Omaha Community Kwanzaa Group (OCKG). There were approximately 200 men, women and children in attendance. There was live music provided for by Merritt Smith Henry Thomas, and Kevin Lloyd along with activities for the children.
The MCs for the evening were Carlos Carr, Sr. and Rick Cross members of the OCKG and employees of Qwest Communication here in Omaha, Nebraska. The ceremony started at 6:30pm with the permission of the Eldest person in attendance. In African Cultures permission must be obtained by the Eldest person in attendance out of a deep respect for their years and wisdom as a pillar of the Community!
After permission was granted, the evening commenced with drumming with the African drum called, a Djembe. The drumming was performed by the novices - Yours Truly- Kokayi Ama Ufanifu and Robert Rush a student attending Northwest High School.
The Djembe is a larger word made up of two smaller words djem = tree and be = goat! The (d) is silent and the word is pronounced like the word GEM in English. And the other part of the word has a long (A) sound and is pronounced BAY; so the entire word is pronounced GEM-BAY!
The childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s activities, which were a wonderful Idea, were supervised by Kim Denise Anthony another member of the OCKG and an employee of Qwest Communications along with Sorority Sisters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.( Idalene R.Williams, PhD, Jamalia Parker, Jenna Williams, LaTrina Parker) who organized high school aged young ladies from the Delta Gems (Sequoia Grayson, Shelbi Whitcomb, Alisa Moore, Dominique Johnson, Camille Scott) and the Central High School Step Team (Shawnte Williams, Jade Franklin, Elizabeth, Adams, Brittani Tucker, Indya Walden, Dominique White, Darrien Howard, Christian Chapman, Tanesha Parker and Dominique Scott) to over see the activities of the children. The childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s activities had a reward system. Play-money was given every time one of the children completed a task. This play-money was to be redeemed for items on display towards the end of the eveningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s festivities.
There was also food at the end of the evening provided for by the Public Library. I would like to thank them at this time, even though I was not able to remain to partake of the meal.
There were some people of note who were in attendance including the Director of the Omaha Public Libraries Rivkah Sass and her spouse Abe Sass along with John Bernadi branch manager of the Washington Branch Library and his staff. The Washington Branch Library is named after the notable Charles B. Washington, an African-American and a civic-minded activist in the Omaha Community. There was also Jim Suttle from District #1 who is running for Mayor on April 7th/May 12th of 2009 along with Ben Gray who has thrown his hat in the ring to run for City Councilperson of the 2nd District and his lovely wife - Freddie J. Gray, Board of Education Member - Subdistrict No.2!
The Kwanzaa Ceremony begins December 26th and ends on January 1st of the New Year. Kwanzaa encompasses 7 days with one principle representing each day. They are - beginning with the first day of Kwanzaa, Umoja/Unity then proceeded by the second day Kujichagulia/Self-determination, and continuing on with the rest of the days and principles respectively Ujima/Collective Work & Responsibility, Ujamaa/Cooperative Economic, Nia/Purpose, Kuumba/Creativity, and Imani/Faith! Imani is the last principle of the last day of Kwanzaa when a community meal at dinner time is shared by all in attendance.
In case anyone is interested in speaking the Kwanzaa principles and other words perhaps a little better. The writer submitted an article on the pronunciation of Kwanzaa words in the Omaha Star dated December 18, 2008. The words chosen in Kwanzaa are from the language Kiswahili which is widely spoken in a number of African countries. Maulana Karenga created the Cultural Holiday of Kwanzaa in 1966. The official website is as follows: www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org
As the writer of this article I would like to close with a few personal remarks that this years Kwanzaa Ceremony has conjured up inside me! They are as follows:
(1). It is a blessing for me personally and Omaha in general that we have individuals such as Kim Denise, Rick Cross and Carlos Carr, Sr. in our community to shower us with their love and expertise! These individuals are not only responsible for the public Kwanzaa ceremony during Kwanzaa, but are the organizers and hosts of OmahaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own internet radio. OCKG Talk Radio as it is known in Omaha informs and focuses on the challenges as well as the good things occurring in the Omaha Black Community. Please go to the website and listen in on previously broadcasted shows along with up and coming shows: www.blogtalkradio.com/omahaurbanconnection.com.
For suggestions and comments their email address is ockgtalk at yahoo.com!
(2). I would also like to say that even though the Kwanzaa ceremony can be celebrated as a family at home, I personally, enjoy the community wide setting of a public ceremony. I believe OCKG prove this to me beyond a shadow of a doubt - this year - more than ever before. I believe it is more African in concept and feel! African Culture is about the individual (a social being) and family within the context of Community. Community in the African mind is like the human body that is made up of many parts. A concept expressed in the Bible as well. (1 Corinthians 12:27) Each part is indispensable to the well-being and successful functioning of the whole. The individual (social being) within the family and community form an interconnected exchange of talents, skills & resources for the Common Good! Alexander Dumas the famous writer of African descend who wrote the story The Three Musketeers expressed this African concept quite succinctly: Ã¢â‚¬Å“All for One and One for All!Ã¢â‚¬Â For me when Black People start printing their own money this saying should be on there along with the phrase Ã¢â‚¬Å“God is LoveÃ¢â‚¬Â (I John 4: 7, 8).
These words on our money could constantly remind us that money is an accounting tool. If anything, its use should monitor how well we express the Love of God towards one another. This is done by sharing our personal & planetary resources along with our talents to better each other in the community and the rest of humanity world wide!
(3). I have humbly expressed that Kwanzaa be moved and celebrated in September. My reasons being expressed in a previous article in the Omaha Star called, Celebrating Kwanzaa in September, December 11, 2008! Just briefly I put forth the arguments that for one thing Kwanzaa is a harvest time celebration! Whereas the harvest time in Africa may be in December. The harvest time in America is around September or early October. Then I went on to say that it was just too cold in December to put on African attire, since Africa people prefer warmer weather to colder weather. I believe September would be more authentic and comfortable to all who participate. Plus I pointed out that no matter how important Kwanzaa was it would probably be too much of an effort to include another holiday within the already entrenched holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve. A move to September would prove not to be so much of a distraction of time, money and energy. And in addition to that some people have mistaken Kwanzaa for a religious holiday that they believe conflicts with their religious values or belief, because of its proximity to Christmas.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Kwanzaa is a harvest time celebration that acknowledges the best in African belief, values, culture. Our culture which included spiritual concepts was not voluntarily given up when black people of Africa were forcibly removed from the continent. Through instigation and deception the Europeans were able to turn brother against brother for material gain. Captured and imported Africans were made to give up their names and customs, and given European names such John, Bill, Boy, the N-word, Negro and Slave. They were made to work under torturous circumstances without just or timely compensation under The American System of Slavery and after the Civil War the Peonage System which included sharecropping and Jim Crow -American Apartheid - Segregation and suppression of human & civil rights embodied in the Black Codes of the South and de facto Jim Crow Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Segregation Ã¢â‚¬â€œ suppression of human & civil rights in the North!
In closing on what I believe to be irrefutable arguments, I would like to say that KwanzaaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s moved to September would bring more people into a celebration of Kwanzaa and for those who were not fortunate enough to attend this years Kwanzaa ceremony and festivities, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You missed (out on) itÃ¢â‚¬Â!