After having to cancel last year due to the pandemic, the annual Kwanzaa celebration returns on Wednesday.
Honoring the celebration of African heritage through performances, art, food, clothing and artifacts remains the goal, according to Bakari Sanyu, director of the Sankofa Collective, a non-profit organization aimed at providing education. on African culture.
“Every year our Kwanzaa programs are always culturally focused. That’s our intention.”
From December 26 to January 1, Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration of African heritage that recognizes nguzo saba, or seven principles of unity, faith, creativity, collective work and responsibility, purpose, self-determination and cooperative economy.
Most celebrations are community driven with family centered activities to allow for the highest level of engagement.
This year’s performances include Eyo, the stilt walker. Waders are known as moko jumbie, a term from the Caribbean islands (“moko” meaning healer and “jumbie” being slang for a ghost or spirit).
“They have used this tradition for years,” Sanyu said. “It’s something unique. You usually see it in many Kwanzaa celebrations in the United States.”
The Teye Sa Thiosanne Drum & Dance Company will also be performing and someone will be reading African tales.
There will also be an exhibition featuring works from Sanyu’s Harambee Art Gallery, which has more than 80 pieces that he has collected across the United States over more than 40 years.
Sanyu is also helping to collect community contributions from those who wish to share pieces from their personal collections for the event.
The celebration will also feature at least 10 local vendors with a variety of items for sale.
Sanyu said, “Every year, we issue an open invitation to our community to come and showcase cultural wares that they own – cultural clothing you can’t find in department stores, African crafts, baskets and bags. jewelry and that sort of thing. “
A returning supplier is Ethnic Boutique, a boutique on Ming Avenue specializing in colorful and trendy African fashion. Sanyu noted that if those planning to attend wish to purchase African clothes to wear for the celebration, which is encouraged, they can visit the store in advance.
“They have time to buy African clothing here locally from a store here in Bakersfield, to help the celebration in their own way,” he said.
Refreshments will also be provided by New Spirit Women’s Group, one of the event’s sponsors and co-partners. While not sure what the group will have this year, Sanyu said that in 2019, black-eyed pea soup was served.
Since last year’s event was canceled, Sanyu expects a good turnout for Wednesday’s event at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center, with around 200-300 people attending.
He also encourages people to use what they learned at the event as a starting point for the diversity of African culture.
“Africa is a continent with over 3,000 ethnic groups. … No one should expect someone to showcase all aspects of their culture.”