This Sunday, a Kwanzaa celebration will be held at the Ward One Centre, hosted by the New Glasgow Black Education Committee from 3 to 5 p.m.
Crystal States, a resident of New Glasgow, is the regional educator with the Black Educators Association, covering the Northern Region, which encompasses Pictou County, Colchester County, Cumberland County and East Hants, and took some time to talk with The News about the event.
Q: Tell me about your first exposure to Kwanzaa. Where did you learn about it?
A: In 1996 I read about Kwanzaa in an Essence Magazine and was intrigued with the concept of a special celebration that focused mainly on African Americans (at that time) or people of African descent. So, that year I decided to host the first ever Kwanzaa, at the Ward One Recreation Centre with the assistance of the Cultural Academic Enrichment Program (CAEP) and the New Glasgow Black Education Committee. With little knowledge of the subject I proceeded with what was written on a one-page article in a cultural magazine. An Industrial Arts Teacher at NGHS made the Kinara (candle holder) from a picture I drew from the essence magazine. CAEP students made bendars ‚Äď the Kwanzaa flag ‚Äď out of construction paper and used stir sticks for the flagpole. We performed a libation; the eldest member lit the one black candle in the kinara that shines for our pride in the black race. We held it on Dec. 26 the first day of Kwanzaa, and focused on the first principle ‚Äď Umojia, unity ‚Äď sticking together in good times and bad.
I think I took the meaning of Kwanzaa literally ‚Äď ‚Äúfirst fruits of the harvest‚ÄĚ ‚Äď cause the first year we bought so much fruit we couldn‚Äôt eat it all and we were begging people to take fruits and vegetables when they departedJ
Q: Have/Do you celebrate it? Can you tell me what it means to you?
A: I celebrate Kwanzaa most years; it‚Äôs always nicer when you‚Äôre celebrating with family and close friends, it makes for a greater celebration. I thoroughly enjoy the reflections when discussing the principle of the day. For example, one of the programs that I supervise the Truro CAEP after learning the principle Ujima ‚Äď collective work and responsibility and having discussions ‚Äď collected over $400, enough money to purchase a goat, two hens, a rooster, solar power, a water filter, 10 fruit trees: papaya, mango coconut, orange and supplies for one classroom. There was a sense of pride in the students as they realized they had contributed in purchasing life-saving materials for a poverty-stricken village in Africa. That‚Äôs what I‚Äôm talking about when I say ‚Äúreflections.‚ÄĚ
Q: Do many celebrate it in New Glasgow/Pictou County?
A: I can‚Äôt speak for the number of people who celebrate it in their homes but for the community Kwanzaa varies from year to year. Time, day and weather all play an essential factor when you‚Äôre this close to the holiday season and there‚Äôs an element of hustle and bustle. New Glasgow will celebrate Kwanzaa this year on Dec. 22.
Q: Is this event exclusively for those of African descent?
A: The event is open to everyone and we look forward to seeing familiar faces from the diverse community of New Glasgow and surrounding areas.
Q: Do/Can people who celebrate Kwanzaa celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah?
A: Kwanzaa is not meant to take away from any other traditional holiday, rather it is meant to augment the holiday season for people of African descent. The successful female vocal group ‚Äď En Vogue ‚Äď does a really good job of blending both celebrations in their rendition of ‚ÄúMy Christmas‚ÄĚ on their Christmas album, ‚ÄúThe gift of Christmas.√¶
Q: For someone looking to get into celebrating Kwanzaa for the first time, what might you say to convince them to try it?
A: If you‚Äôre looking for a Kwanzaa celebration come join us at the Ward One Centre, Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m.