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  • Writer's pictureShanique Byrd

City Hall Celebrates Kwanzaa



City Hall Celebrates Kwanzaa. Photo: Shanique Byrd

The first Kwanzaa celebration at City Hall in Rochester, organized by Mayor Malik Evans and the Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition, marks a significant milestone in the city's recognition and celebration of Afrikan culture.


Derived from the Swahili phrase "Matunda ya Kwanzaa," meaning "fruit fruits," Kwanzaa is a six-day celebration that honors the best of the community and its achievements each year.


The Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition, established in 1982 by Terry Chaka, Gerald Chaka, and David Sankofa Anderson, has been instrumental in promoting the principles of Kwanzaa within the community.


The focus on the seven principles, known as the NGUZO SABA, forms the core of Kwanzaa celebrations. These principles include Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). By organizing the Kwanzaa celebration at City Hall, Mayor Malik Evans, and the Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition aim to bring these principles to the forefront and foster a sense of unity, pride, and cultural appreciation within the community.


The mayor's attendance at the Libation ceremony signifies the city's recognition of the importance of ancestral reverence and its role in fostering a strong and united community. Kwanzaa celebration at City Hall provided a platform to showcase and celebrate the accomplishments of individuals and organizations. The event promoted a sense of pride and unity. Through music, vendors, food, storytelling, and discussions, the celebration creates an atmosphere that encourages community members to come together and appreciate the richness of Afrikan culture in Rochester and the Afrikan Diaspora. 


Notable community figures such as Assemblyman Demond Meeks, Councilmember Mary Lupien, Scott Brown, Reuben Tapp, and Imhotep of B Healthy Fresh Food Market will be featured in the program, highlighting their contributions to the community and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps. 


Kwanzaa holds deep reverence for ancestors, recognizing sacrifices and contributions to the community. The Libation ceremony, known as Tamshi La Tamiko, is a significant part of the celebration. This ceremony allows community members to pay homage to their ancestors, acknowledging their wisdom, strength, and resilience. By incorporating this ceremony into the Kwanzaa celebration at City Hall, Mayor Malik Evans and the Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition demonstrate their commitment to honoring the past and preserving cultural heritage. 


The elders who founded Kwanzaa in Rochester acknowledged their contributions to the community, their wisdom, and their experiences. The celebration honored their role in shaping the present and inspiring future generations. Additionally, the Kwanzaa celebration aimed to uplift the youth, encouraging them to embrace their cultural heritage, learn from the elders, and become active participants in community building. 


By highlighting community achievements, paying reverence to ancestors, celebrating the elders who founded Kwanzaa in Rochester, and uplifting the youth, the event fosters unity, cultural appreciation, and a sense of pride within the community. Through music, vendors, food, storytelling,  and discussions, the celebration created an inclusive and vibrant atmosphere that encouraged community members to come together and celebrate the best of Afrikan culture in Rochester and the Afrikan Diaspora. This event served as a testament to the city's commitment to diversity, cultural preservation, and community building.


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