By Naeisha Rose

Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration for descendants of the African diaspora, which is observed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, is a holiday meant to bring black people together across the world to reflect on their culture and heritage.

The Afrikan Poetry Theatre in Jamaica is celebrating Kwanzaa Saturday at the Amazura Concert Hall at 91-12 144th Place from noon to 8 p.m. The event will feature dance, face-painting, live music, kids’ giveaways, spoken word, and traditional African and Caribbean crafts and cuisine.

The Golden Dancerettes, the United African Dance Group, the Elite Marching Band, the Urban Poets Movement, Queens Free Expression, and Messiah Ramkissoon are the featured acts expected to perform at the event.

Maulana Karenga, the chair of the Department of Africana studies at California State University, Long Beach, founded Kwanzaa in 1967 to at first bring black Americans — now blacks from all over the world — together, according to his website maulanakarenga.org. Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili word meaning “first fruits,” a reference to the African tradition to celebrate the first harvest of the year.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz scheduled a candle-lighting ceremony and short program to highlight the tradition Thursday at the Helen Marshall Cultural Center at Queens Borough Hall at 120-55 Queens Blvd. in Kew Gardens.

Throughout the event the seven principles for harmonious living were to be honored and culminate in a feast, according to Katz.

Gifts were exchanged on a decorative mat, which had symbolic corn, crops, a candle holder with seven candles, a communal cup, a pan-African red, black and green flag and a poster of the weeklong philosophies, according to the Borough President.

The principles are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith), according to history.com.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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