PDT Staff Writer
Thirty-five kids participated in a celebration of Kwanzaa at the 14th Street Community Center Thursday evening. Maureen Cadogan volunteered time to work with the group of youth, to teach them about the meaning of Kwanzaa.
Founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is celebration which honors African heritage in African-American culture, which lasts seven days beginning Dec. 26 until Jan. 1. It is celebrated throughout the United States, Canada, and in the Western African Diaspora.
The youth listened as Cadogan shared her knowledge of Kwanzaa, and her personal experiences regarding it.
Kwanzaa was created by Karenga to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community.
“I am just here to teach the kids about Kwanzaa. Some kids have never participated in it, nor celebrated it. So, we want all that can, and will to be celebrants of Kwanzaa,” Cadogan said.
Cadogan, who is the wife of Anthony Cadogan, and mother of Gerald, Nathaniel, and Marlita, said her family has kept Kwanzaa for more than 23 years.
Cadogan taught the children about the Seven Principles or Nguzo Saba of Kwanzaa, which consist of Umoja, which is unity, Kujichagulia, self-determination, Ujima, collective work and responsibility, Ujamaa, cooperative economics, nia or purpose, Kuumba which is creativity, and Imani, which is faith.
“The principles of Kwanzaa are principles for life that can contribute to their well being,” Cadogan said.
Although Kwanzaa originated as a celebration for people of African heritage, Cadogan said Kwanzaa transcends any and all racial barriers.
“I asked the kids, how many of you have been told that you are nothing, that you will never amount to anything and that you are stupid and dumb?” Cadogan said.
She said she was taken aback by the number of children that raised their hands in response to her question.
“Ninety-nine percent of the children raised their hands, and I saw a couple of tears—that was heart-wrenching,” Cadogan said.
Cadogan instructed the group to look at the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa everyday, to find encouragement, hope and belief in themselves.
“Don’t let anything negative that people say to you take you down, but rise above and so the principle of the day is Kujichagulia, which is self-determination, you determine where you want to be, not others” Cadogan said.
Ornaments with bearing the words of the Seven Principles were placed upon a Christmas tree by some of the children in the group, and the completion of handouts sheets, also revealing the principles for the children to color and take home.
The event was concluded with one of the traditions of Kwanzaa feast prepared by Mary Nelson, the operating manager of the 14th Street Community Center.
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or firstname.lastname@example.org