Thousands across NY expected to celebrate Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa musicians with Menes De Griot, center, performing at a past celebration.
Kwanzaa musicians with Menes De Griot, center, performing at a past celebration.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

After more than two years, thousands are expected to pack venues across the boroughs, to celebrate Kwanzaa, as New York fully reopens, after a devastating lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kwanzaa offers a new dialogue on Black culture, and positive contributions to the world, and not just the negative stigma of race, according to Dr. Adam Clark, professor of theology at Xavier University. The festival that is observed by African Americans, from Dec. 26 – Jan. 1, will be commemorated with music, dance, drumming and poetry.

Guyanese-born Menes De Griot, master drummer and founder of the Shanto Rhythm, and herbalist, told Caribbean Life, “This would have been our 37th year doing Kwanzaa at Medgar Evers College but due to construction taking place we must wait another year.”

“Our program includes sharing new toys, clothing, feeding the community and having musical presentations,” said Ayana Vanzant who initiated the Kwanzaa program. She was the president of Medgar Evers student body and is a writer and popular TV host.

“We will be taking clothes and toys to shelters. Persons wishing to make donations of clothing, monies or toys could reach brother Tony Akeem at 718 659 4999 or Baba Mpho aka Menes De Griot at 347 488 5010,” said De Griot.

Menes De Griot, an outstanding African drummer and keeper of the culture, who was recently featured in a short film at the African Film Festival, performing at a past event in Brooklyn.
Menes De Griot, an outstanding African drummer and keeper of the culture, who was recently featured in a short film at the African Film Festival, performing at a past event in Brooklyn. Photo by Tangerine Clarke

The Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) in partnership with Queensborough Community College Dance Program (QCC Dance), Rhythm N Dance, Ebony Oasis, and the Kofago Dance Ensemble, presents Kwanzaa Celebration 2022, the kids’ show, on Friday, Dec. 9. Performances by local dance artists who are all brought together to celebrate Kwanzaa through dance and culture will be on stage from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

The venue at 153-10 Jamaica Ave., Jamaica, Queens, will also host a Sunday, Dec. 11, show from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., with an evening of dance and music celebrating the annual holiday of community festivity and cultural diversity.

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On Saturday, Dec. 17 (1-4 p.m.), Westbury Arts will celebrate Kwanzaa with a program hosted by Marcia Odle-McNair (artist, educator, and author of “Kwanzaa Crafts”).

Kwanzaa, that is an African American holiday filled with joy and remembrance. It is a time to honor lessons taught by our ancestors. We will share the warmth of family and friends, explore important African symbols, explain the Principles of Kwanzaa in many creative ways and make handmade gifts, said the website.

Tickets are free and can be reserved on Eventbrite ( the age of children is required when applying for tickets.

A Kwanzaa STEM Workshop – masking tape structures will, celebrate Kwanzaa, on Saturday, Dec. 17, from 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., at the Lewis Latimer House Museum, 34-41 137th St., Queens.

According to the release, this year, participants will create crafts to represent the seven-day holiday in a special way. Kwanzaa honors African American culture by intertwining Swahili, symbolic colors, imagery and tradition, said organizers.

Lewis Latimer was a self-proclaimed Renaissance man during the mid 1920s. Not only did he create a career out of self-taught electrical engineering and inventing, but he was also an artist, poet, and instrumentalist.

The Abundance in Ujamaa (AIU) will present its 3rd Annual Kwanzaa Extravaganza on Monday, Dec. 26, at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple, 317 Clermont Ave., Brooklyn, from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., under the theme: Umoja (unity).

Kwanzaa is a holiday created by American Africans as a show of Kujichagulia (self-determination). It was created in 1966 and has spread from a community in Oakland to be recognized and celebrated around the globe. The continuing observance of Kwanzaa is the result of Imani (faith) and Ujima (collective work and responsibility), said the organization.

The website noted that this year’s Kwanzaa will continue to be celebrated with Nia (purpose). Vendors, performers (drumming, dancing, poetry,) will display their Kuumba (creativity) and Nia, food, music, family, and children’s activities. All proceeds will go toward the event and any future events that AIU is a part of.

The Kwanzaa Film Festival 2022 – celebrating the Harlem Renaissance is hosting a Unity Award fundraiser event at the Shrine Music, 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., Harlem, New York on Dec. 26. Doors open at 6 p.m.

There will be a Black film festival founder’s roll call and awardees Sophia Loren, Coffee & Company will provide music from the Harlem Renaissance Era. Guests will enjoy the end of the night with dancing and networking after the lighting of the Kwanzaa Candles and in the spirit of unity have a solidarity circle with other film festival founders.

Films to be shown will include Rock Bottom, Jac on The Come Up, Ethan Art Venture, In Between The Devil, and The Rainy Day.
For more information, email: [email protected] or call 917-995-293.

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