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This year I’ve been thinking to learn more about and celebrate Kwanzaa during the holiday season.  As it often goes for me, the universe provides opportunities that tend to get me close to things I want or inquire about.

So with this “learn more about and celebrate Kwanzaa” energy in the air, my man Jabari Exum (Hueman Prophets, Farafina Kan, Adindra Movement) hit me up a couple months ago about penning a cameo verse for a song called “The 7 Principles” that he’s putting together with various D.C. indie all-stars. From the name of the song I knew that it referred to the seven Kwanzaa principles, but I did not know the principles off the top of my head—-even though I actually lived in a co-op housing community modeled on the seven principles recently. Embarrassing to say least, but easily remedied with a little research—-and I hope the 16-bar Head-Roc contribution to Brother Jabari’s track pays my penitence.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa, known as the Nguzo Saba, are communal African values cherished as the foundation of healing and progress to improve social economic and political conditions for peoples of the African diaspora. Kwanzaa begins the day after Christmas and concludes on New Years Day, and during that span each day focuses on a specific Kwanzaa Principle. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are:
  • Umoja – Unity
  • Kujichagulia – Self-Determination
  • Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility
  • Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics
  • Nia – Purpose
  • Kuumba – Creativity
  • Imani – Faith

Researched and established by Kwanzaa founder/creator Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 during the Civil Rights era, Kwanzaa is not a deity-based religious event, but a cultural acknowledgement of togetherness. Honestly, I don’t know if it started out this way, but in the grand tradition of how black folks do in this country, and as the way I understand it, all are welcomed to participate in Kwanzaa. And so Chocolate City, I invite you to come and join me at the Historic Lincoln Theatre this Sunday to experience what will be now and forever known as Washington, D.C.’s premiere Kwanzaa celebration.

The Adinkra Group*, formed by D.C. arts community mover and shaker Diallo Sumbry , is throwing a monster bash to kick of the first night of Kwanzaa (Umoja) that will feature some of D.C.’s top entertainers, and celebrate the work of Washington leaders doing great work to promote strong D.C. communities.

Some community leaders receiving honors include:

  • Kenny Barnes, Reaching Out to Others Together, Roots Inc.
  • Ron Clark, Regional Additional Prevention, (RAP) Inc.
  • Melvin Deal, African Heritage Dancers and Drummers
  • Carol Foster, D.C. Youth Ensemble
  • Kymone Freeman, Black L. U. V. (Love, Unity and Vision) Festival
  • Ayo Handy-Kendi, African-American Holiday Expo and Association
  • Brenda Jones, Parkland Community Center
  • Bernida Thompson, Roots Activity Learning Center and Roots Public Charter School

With performances by D.C. indie music all-stars:

  • BlackNotes
  • Farafina Kan
  • Maimouna Youssef
  • Gods’illa
  • Ballou High School Choir
Sunday’s event is called “Umoja on U: A Kwanzaa Celebration,” and for me it represents an earnest, sincere, and knowledgeable attempt to, for at least one day, restore the magic and glory that once filled the Lincoln Theatre’s great hall with expressions of what I like to simply call: Black Love. My first solo LP from 2004 was called The Return of Black Broadway in a heads-up attempt to re-establish the spirit of Kujichagulia that black artists like Duke Ellington and Pearl Baily must have implemented to wow audiences along the revered U St Corridor. In their heyday, black entertainers were banned from playing the coveted Broadway entertainment strip in New York City. and right here in D.C. is where we built and managed our own “Black Broadway” using an early form of Nguzo Saba governance.
I do hope you can make it out to “Umoja on U: A Kwanzaa Celebration.”  Chocolate City’s finest, dressed to the cultural nines, will be in the house for this much-needed city- and region-wide event.  I’ll be in the house looking my blessed and hope to see you there!

“Umoja on U: A Kwanzaa Celebration” takes place Sunday at the Lincoln Theatre. 6 p.m. $20 General Admission. Tickets at www.thelincolntheatre.org

*About the Adinkra Group
The Adinkra Group is an edutainment resource company based in Washington, DC, with a mission to promote and support businesses, organizations, schools, artists, programs and events that contribute to the progressive development of the African American Community with Washington, DC as the nucleus. The vision is to create a solid network of individuals, families, communities and businesses throughout the African Diaspora who are committed to redefining and reshaping collective existence to one of realistic harmony, economic self-sufficiency, reciprocal support, collective responsibility and individual accountability. The Adinkra Group commits to establishing productive, flexible relationships and to sustain those relationships at the highest level. Visit them online at www.theadinkragroup.com.