Natchez prepares for Kwanzaa

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 23, 1999

The last Kwanzaa of this millennium will be for the children, say organizers of the 1999 celebration.

A Children’s Kwanzaa for the Natchez area will begin at 2 p.m. Dec. 30 at Zion Chapel AME&160;Church at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and Jefferson Street, said Ser Sheshab Heter-C.M. Boxley, co-sponsor of the event.

The hands-on learning experience will teach children to celebrate Kwanzaa at home, in school and in church, to play African drums, to perform African dance, and to observe the seven principles of Kwanzaa, Boxley said.

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&uot;Nia, the fifth principle and the day of Kwanzaa has been chosen to celebrate the Natchez regional Children’s Kwanzaa,&uot; he said.

&uot;Our African-descent children and youth are perhaps at the greatest adverse crossroads of life’s mission and purpose since up from enslavement times in America.&uot;

Boxley said Kwanzaa organizers wanted to skip the &uot;party&uot; atmosphere of the new millennium and focus on the future – the children of the community.

During the Kwanzaa celebration, the 22-member Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble from Opelousa, La., will perform and teach African drumming and dancing.

Carol Brown of radio station KPXS 104.7 will read stories to the children and the New Afrikans Scouts of Port Gibson will perform marching drills. The Kwanzaa celebration will end with a Children’s Sidewalk Parade through downtown Natchez.

Parents, adults and children are asked to wear African-motif clothing or clothing in the colors of red, black and green.

Kwanzaa, which means &uot;first fruits of the harvest&uot; in the African language Kiswahili, was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga as a means of defining African purpose, identity, mission and self-determination, Boxley said. It is celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

Kwanzaa took root 30 years ago, when graduate student Karenga, disturbed by the 1965 riots in Los Angeles’ Watts area, decided that African-Americans needed an annual event to honor their differences.&160;

Other sponsors of the Children’s Kwanzaa are Eliza Pillars Registered Nursing Association, African Wonders Gift Shop, Africa House of Providence, Gettye Israel, Ebony Barber and Beauty Shop, Charles Wright, Kelvin Thomas and Winn Pharmacy.