How can locals celebrate Kwanzaa during a pandemic?

Kwanzaa Charlotte will air virtual programs celebrating three of the seven principles of Kwanzaa — Umoja, Kujichagulia and Imani.

Although Covid-19 cases continue to increase across Mecklenburg County, local organizers are still finding ways to celebrate Kwanzaa. 

The weeklong, annual celebration of African American culture begins on Saturday and ends Jan. 1. Kwanzaa Charlotte will be airing three prerecorded virtual programs celebrating the principles of Umoja, Kujichagulia and Imani. The collective of “conscious-minded individuals and organizations” organizes community-wide events that follow the principles of Nguzu Saba (seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani). 

Prerecorded programs will air at 7 p.m. on Kwanzaa Charlotte’s Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Here are the dates:

  • Dec. 26, “Umoja” (Unity)
  • Dec. 27, “Kujichagulia” (Self-Determination)
  • Jan. 1, “Imani” (Faith)

Additionally, Kwanzaa-themed infographics will be posted for daily viewing throughout the week. Viewers can now watch a virtual workshop focused on Kwanzaa’s history, family and crafts. 

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Elisha T. “Mother” Minter, a storyteller and member of Kwanzaa Charlotte’s planning committee, said celebrating Kwanzaa virtually isn’t comparable to gathering in person to celebrate the non-religious Pan African holiday. 

“We’re just missing the close contact, being able to hug each other, brotherly love, kisses, drumming and all the wonderful sounds that go along with Kwanzaa,” she told QCity Metro. 

If Covid-19 hadn’t limited in-person gatherings, Minter said the collective would have had vendors, members of the community, small businesses and the youth come out and celebrate Kwanzaa together. 

Sister Terry Tiamd teaching Kwanzaa Charlotte members about Kwanzaa’s history, family and crafts during the collective’s Dec. 12 virtual workshop. Photo courtesy of Kwanzaa Charlotte.

Before the pandemic hit in March, Minter and other planning committee members were meeting about how to improve the celebration. Once cases increased and in-person gatherings became seemingly non-existent, the committee began hosting virtual meetings and phone conferences to prepare for this year’s festivities.

Beginning in September, the committee met every week to discuss what celebrating Kwanzaa would look like during a global pandemic. 

“I’m hoping that a lot of people will actually practice Kwanzaa in their homes this year to be safe,” Minter said. “That’s the way we need to do this year because so many people come out for the in-person programs and it just would not be safe.”

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