Story and photos by Ricky Richardson
*The calendar states that it is winter. The weather outdoors feels like Summertime.
Make no mistake about it, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls; It’s Kwanzaa Time!
Droves of people from all over Southern California visited Leimert Park Village on Saturday, December 28 for the 12th Annual Kwanzaa Heritage Festival with the theme “Educate Our Youth,” presented by the Kwanzaa Heritage Foundation.
Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966. Kwanzaa is observed from December 26 through January 1. Kwanzaa is celebrated in the United States and also in the Western African Diaspora and in other nations of the Americas. Kwanzaa is a celebration of Family, Community and Culture.
This yearly event took place in the Vision Theater Backlot on another picture perfect, sunny afternoon. The festival featured music, traditional African dancing,a drum circle, food court, marketplace and children’s village. The highlight of the celebration featured the candle lighting ceremony and block parade.
A DJ played an eclectic soundtrack of sounds as people gathered in the Vision Theater Backlot for the day long celebration of Kwanzaa. The program got under way with a lively block parade featuring Team LA All-Stars Cheer Squad and Hip Hop Dance Group, Royal Queens United and South L.A. Real Rydazs-custom bikes. Royal Queen United is an eclectic Power Source Igniting Wisdom & Inner Healing through Art, song, Poetry and Dance. Visit http://royalqueens.wix.com/royalquuensunite for more information.
The Team LA All-Stars Cheer Squad and Hip Hop Dance Group held center stage as these talented youngsters showcased three sets of cheer routines and several hip hop dance steps to the delight of the audience.
Jamael Speaks and Deveaux served as co-host of the afternoon. Jamael Speaks recited an original poem, followed by Ladee Dred a sensational reggae vocalist who entertained the crowd on the tune “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” Ladee Dred has been busy of late, touring with world known reggae group Black Uhuru. Ladee Dred is a member of Royal Queen United.
Kicheko Davis held the crowds’ undivided attention as she performed a Libation Ceremony, followed by the Candle Lighting Ceremony with several members of the crowd reciting each principles- NGUZO SABA of Kwanzaa.
UMOJA (Unity)-To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
KUJICHAGULIA (Self Determination)- To define ourselves, name ourselves and speak for ourselves.
UJIMA (Collective Work and Responsibility)- To build and maintain our community together and to make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and solve them together.
UJAMAA (Cooperative Economics)- To build and maintain our owm stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
NIA (Purpose)- To make our collective vocation the building and developing our community inorder to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
KUUMBA (Creativity)- To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
IMANI (Faith)- To believe with all of our heart in our purpose, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
The LA Sunshine Zone African Dancers regally dressed, performs traditional African Dances to the four winds. The dancers invited a group of kids and adults from the crowd to learn some dance steps. The program continued throughout the afternoon, with addtional live music, children’s activities.
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based music reviewer, writer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected].