Habari Gani: Celebrate Kwanzaa at the African American Cultural Center of Long Beach

In Swahili, “habari gani” means “what’s the news?” The greeting will be heard a lot next week when the African American Cultural Center of Long Beach hosts a two-day Kwanzaa celebration.

Held at the Expo Arts Center at 4321 Atlantic Ave. in Bixby Knolls, the event will run from 5-9 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. Each night will feature a children’s activity corner, tours of the “Black Dolls” exhibit, a candle lighting ceremony, Baba the Storyteller, an African marketplace with vendors, live artists, jazz performances and West African drum and dance.

Tuesday’s event also will include a Karamu feast, which traditionally is held on Dec. 31—the sixth day of Kwanzaa.

“[The center] strives to create, build and maintain unity within our community while creating a purposeful path for our children, our families, and our community to thrive,” Board of Directors Chair and Program Manager Jaqueline Quarles said in an email Friday.

The organization is asking for a $10 donation from all in attendance.

This year’s celebration will highlight the second and third Kwanzaa principles, according to the announcement. Tuesday’s focus will be “Kujichagulia,” or self-determination, while Wednesday will highlight “Ujima,” or collective work and responsibility.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga, who modeled the holiday after the African “first fruit” traditions. Karenga is currently the chair of the Africana Studies Department and Cal State Long Beach.

The rituals of the holiday promote the “seven principles of African heritage,” including Umoja (unity), Ujaama (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith).

“[The center] strives to practice these principles on a daily basis,” Quarles said.

There are COVID protocols in place and the organization is recommending those in attendance wear masks.

For more information, contact Max Viltz at 562-787-0899 or [email protected]. To RSVP, click here.

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