Celebrating Kwanzaa is a Well-Established Tradition for Many Atlanta Families

On a clear but chilly day, Southwest Atlanta resident Christine Arinze-Samuel and her family gathered at her home on Benjamin E. Mays Drive to set up their Kwanzaa display.

The retired Atlanta Public Schools educator who goes by the name Olufemi (God Loves Me in Yoruba), has been living in Southwest Atlanta since 1970. Her mother, aunts, her son and his wife and their children all share the Kwanzaa spirit.

Kwanzaa is a holiday celebrated Dec. 26-Jan. 1 across the U.S. and in other countries. It uplifts seven principles: Unity, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. It is celebrated in homes and community centers.

Every year, Kwanzaa centers around a unique theme; the emphasis this year is on “Sharing Good in the World.”

“Kwanzaa is a celebration of family, community and culture, with each providing a context and commitment of common ground, cooperative practice and shared good,” Kwanzaa founder Maulana Karenga said in his annual Kwanzaa message.

For Olufemi, the candles, fruit and other items used as symbols of the holiday are important. She plans to gather her family for food and fun, to discuss the meaning of Kwanzaa, and to attend Kwanzaa events.

One of her favorite Kwanzaa principles is Unity, which seeks to “to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race,” according to the Official Kwanzaa Web Site. How does Olufemi manifest it in the southwest Atlanta community? “I shop in the community,” said Olufemi, who has a doctorate in education and works as an education consultant in Atlanta.

Read more:  Cascade Patch

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