The Nia Cultural Center will present its 30th annual Kwanzaa celebration — “Purposely Building and Developing Our Families and Community” — Saturday at the Old Central Cultural Center, 2627 Ave. M, in Galveston.

Festivities will begin with the principal of Ujamaa (cooperative economics) at the Kwanzaa Market at 4 p.m., followed by a celebration at 5 p.m., which will end with a community feast.

Kwanzaa, a nonreligious holiday created by Maulana Karenga, introduces and reinforces seven basic values of African culture that contribute to building and sustaining family, community and culture among African-American people, as well as people in the diaspora, said Sue Johnson, executive director of Nia Cultural Center in Galveston.

“When we first started celebrating Kwanzaa in those early years, there was so much confusion about its meaning and intent,” Johnson said. “Kwanzaa is a time for African-Americans to reflect on our experiences, and recommit to each other to do good for each other and the world.”

Disconnecting from the notion of religion or politics, or that it was a replacement for Christmas took several years, Johnson said.

Saturday’s program will feature performances by the Dancing Dolls of Central Middle School and Artists in Motion drill teams, vocalist David Mitchell, storyteller Sister Mama Sonya, spoken word artist Makia Golliday, and the Freedom School Scholars of Nia.

The program also will include a Kwanzaa message by Dr. Roger Watkins.

“Our local celebrations now are standing room only,” Johnson said. “We not only have entertainment, but we also recognize community members who have distinguished themselves as community elders and keepers of the village.”

Village Keeper Awards will be presented to Robert Hockley, Kenyatha Loftis, Rosalyn Jackson, Nakisha Paul, Lillian McGrew, Eugene Lewis, Winifred Gilmore, Rosalind Johnson, and Bryan-Keyth Wilson.

Distinguished Elder Awards, which are given to individuals 50 and older, will be given to Barbara Gordon, Donald Singleton and Linkie B. Wells.

“I delight in sharing and celebrating Kwanzaa because of the extraordinary lesson it teaches me and our children about ‘real’ community in a cultural style that enriches and uplifts my African-American tradition and heritage,” Corlie Jackson, of Galveston, said.

Beginning on Dec. 26 of each year, Kwanzaa is celebrated by practicing seven core principles through Jan. 2, which are:

Umoja: Unity;

Kujichagulia: Self determination;

Ujima: Collective work and responsibility;

Ujamaa: Cooperative economics;

Nia: Purpose;

Kuumba: Creativity; and

Imani: Faith.

“The universality of Kwanzaa principles resonate in each of us,” Jackson said. “Celebrating Kwanzaa teaches civic responsibility and the need to develop and live a purpose-filled life.”

Admission to the celebration is free and open to the public. For more information or how you can help, call 409-457-8955.

“Please bring family, friends and a dish or food item to contribute to the Karamu Community Feast,” Johnson said. “The feast signifies the product of our working together. The larger the feast, the more evidence that we are willing to commit to our community.”

Angela Wilson: 409-683-5239; angela.wilson@galvnews.com

Angela Wilson is the community news editor for The Daily News.

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