Libraries are known as quiet places, but on Dec. 26, Central Library might get a little loud and crazy as line dancers, African drummers, spoken word artists and more fill the space with jubilee. The Indianapolis Kwanzaa Committee’s annual Umoja Village Kwanzaa Celebration is moving to Central Library this year.
Committee member Sibeko Jywanza said the partnership will allow more community members to take part.
“This (move) allows people who may be in the library already to be able to experience it, and those who are coming to our event but who have not visited the new Center (for Black Literature and Culture) are able to get that experience,” he said. “It ties in to what the library is trying to do in the community.”
Spoken word artists Mariah Ivey and Eric Saunders will serve as emcees for the event. Saunders, who has attended the Kwanzaa Celebration for the past five years, said the event is an opportunity for the community to “build in our values.”
“For me, it’s a cultural shift. Think of Christmas. People say Christmas is one time of the year, but Christ was not a one-day character. With Kwanzaa, these are principles to guide your whole life. It’s a foundation for your upcoming year, your life, your community,” explained Saunders.
The “principles” Saunders speaks of are umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity) and imani (faith), each reflected on during the seven-day celebration known as Kwanzaa. Saunders’ goal is to teach the community to embrace these principles every day.
“You don’t need cooperative economics on Black Friday; you need it every day. You don’t need faith just on Christmas; you need faith every day,” explained Saunders. “We have gotten to a point that we are so divided, but you can come in here to feel a sense of unity. Be creative every day, live this out every day, and watch the change.”
Indianapolis Kwanzaa Committee’s Annual Umoja (Unity) Village Celebration takes place from 5–9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 26, at Central Library in downtown Indianapolis. The event is kid-friendly and free.
Professor Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 to bring African-Americans together as a community. The name Kwanzaa means “first fruits” in Swahili. Celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles) are values of African culture that contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. Kwanzaa will begin on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, and end on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.