By Laura Kaae
Killeen Daily Herald
Today marks the 41st year of the African-American and Pan-African holiday, Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration of African-American culture and history.
In honor of the holiday, Babatunde, owner of Under One Roof Bookstore, will host several events beginning at 5 p.m. today at the bookstore, at 1102 W. Jasper Road in Killeen. The events are free and open to the public.
Babatunde has offered Kwanzaa events for the past 17 years at his store. This year, he said the focus will be more on education and less on entertainment.
Babatunde said he feels strongly about the holiday, which draws together African-Americans in the Killeen area.
"We need to do this – to come together and educate each other on what we need to do as a community," he said.
One important aspect of the Kwanzaa celebration is discussing the things that were taken away as a result of slavery, he said.
"A way of life has been taken away from us, and it is important to me to get back to (the way of life) prior to slavery," he said.
Each day of Kwanzaa celebrates a different principle, he explained.
The proper greeting for each day is the Swahili greeting "Habari Gani"– the appropriate response is to reply with the principle of that day. Today, that response would be "umoja," which means unity.
The Kwanzaa celebration at Under One Roof, as well as all Kwanzaa festivities around the country, should include children, he said.
"We want to teach them respect for those who came before us," Babatunde said. "We want to celebrate the children because they represent the future."
One aspect of Kwanza, Babatunde emphasized, is that it is not a substitute for Christmas. Kwanzaa can be celebrated by those who are Christian and those who are not. The focus, he said, is that of being African-American.
"It is a time to come together as a people and celebrate that," he said. "There is a day of faith, but it is faith in one's self, not necessarily in religion."
The seven principles – which include unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith – are not just to be emphasized during the holidays but throughout the whole year.
"It can't be just seven days," he said. "We should practice them every day of the year."
Babatunde noted that there is not much recognition of Kwanzaa in the community, so he wants to do his part by offering a celebration at Under One Roof again this year.
The Kwanzaa celebration will begin at 5 p.m. today, the day of unity. The event will feature the history of Kwanzaa.
On Saturday, the day of cooperative economics, there will be poetry from 6 to 9 p.m.
On Dec. 31., the day of creativity, there will be events from 1 to 4 p.m. at Club Kascade.
All events are free and open to children and adults. Everyone is asked to bring an African dish to pass for the potluck.
For more information, call (254) 554-6553.
Contact Laura Kaae at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7464