Kwanzaa, the seven-day Pan-African holiday celebrating family, African culture and social values is evident in South Florida. And it’s also more inclusive than you might think. The holiday now crosses racial and cultural lines and strengthens communities.
For the 10th year, the streets of West Palm’s Northwood neighborhood are taken over by the sounds of the drum circle, Livin’ the Rhythm during Kwanzaa which ends Jan. 1.
“We want all people to come out here and enjoy the vibe that we’re selling,” said Abasi Hanif, a Livin’ the Rhythm musician and instructor.
The first principle of Kwanzaa is unity and it’s evident by both drummers and attendees to Thursday’s opening ceremony. Many in attendance shared diverse backgrounds.
“They’re universal qualities and it’s time that we celebrate our diversity within the unity,” said Guruman Kaur Khaosa, an attendee. “So we come together to appreciate the different costumes, food, language and rhythm.”
At African Art, Antiques, Gifts and Accessories in Fort Pierce the owner says the Kinara that holds the candles representing the Kwanzaa principles sold out within weeks.
”You have to prepare,” said Ndiaga Niang, owner of African Art, Antiques, Gifts and Accessories. “They fly off the shelves left and right.”
Niang has also seen an increase in African art and jewelry purchases this time of year and says Kwanzaa bridges cultures. Nearly two-thirds of his customers aren’t Black.
“They aren’t just specific to the black people - whether they’re from Africa or the African diaspora. In every great community you find those seven principles inside,” said Niang.
Kwanzaa concludes with the principle Imani meaning faith and victory over struggle.