The beautiful Sankofa Cultural Arts Center at 5820 W. Chicago in the Austin community held its annual Kwanzaa celebration, starting the day after Christmas. Dec. 26, proprietors Malcolm and Stacia Crawford celebrated Kujichagulia (self-determination). Their invitation read, “As we reflect on a year that has brought us change, change that has created new hope, hope for economic success for black businesses in ’09, we say let’s celebrate because its Kwanzaa time!”

Entertainment included the very talented Maggie Brown, daughter of Oscar Brown Jr., and the Busa Family Afrikan Drum & Dance Troupe. Brown and her three sons got things started with a song called, “It’s in the Genes,” very appropriate for the Browns because the musical talent is passing on to the grandchildren. Brown’s youngest son wrapped it up by doing a series of back flips, spins and turns that wowed the audience.

The Busa Family Afrikan Drum & Dance Troupe comes from the Austin community and one of its members, Vickie “Sali” Casanova, teaches children and adults African dance and many other forms of ethnic dance.

As today marks the last day of Kwanzaa, following is a brief history of the celebration:

History of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a non-religious African-American holiday which celebrates family, community, and culture. It is celebrated for seven days: Dec. 26-Jan. 1. Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community. He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African “first fruit” (i.e. harvest) celebrations.

Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa. It was first celebrated by a small number of black families in Los Angeles, Calif., to “restore and reaffirm our African heritage and culture.” Kwanzaa, a Kiswahili word meaning “first” or “first fruit,” celebrates over the seven days the Nguzo Saba, or seven principles, of Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).