During the holiday season, some show their reverence with tight-lipped solemnity. But a Kwanzaa celebration does it with vibrant color and action, song, dance and food.
Anniston resident Dea Lové and her mother, Gloria Bullock, want to try introducing that color and excitement to the city by hosting a “Kwanzaa: The Celebration,” on Dec. 27, an hour-long gathering for dance, song and food that will give Annistonians a better understanding of the holiday.
“It’s a celebration of African tradition,” explains Bullock, who learned of the holiday while on a trip to her granddaughter’s school library a few years ago. “It’s also about family unity, and I believe there’s not enough of it in this world.”
Bullock passed the holiday on to Lové, who has celebrated it for the last four years, finding that each year the gatherings grew larger. Last year’s dinner at her home drew in about 40 people, Lové estimates. Rather than keep it to herself, she decided to share it with the community.
“We’re going to have African dancers come in from Birmingham, drums, a group singing a cappella — we’re putting on a show,” Lové said. Between each performance will be a short explanation of the different days of Kwanzaa, each of which has a theme centered around a word in Swahili.
The first day, for instance, is “Umoja,” and its focus is bringing together members of the community to promote unity, Bullock explained. The fifth day, “Nia,” or purpose, encourages community building and the giving of homemade gifts.
Lové’s celebration will be on the second day of Kwanzaa, “Kujichagulia,” or self-determination, a reminder to define yourself as an individual and not let others do it for you — though the evening definitely promotes unity, as well, with one of the best ways to bring people together: a good meal. with one of the best ways to bring people together: a good meal.
“There’s going to be a lot of West Indian food because that’s what I grew up around,” said Lové.
Dishes like African raisin rice — wheat grain rice with coconut milk, raisins and seasoning — will collide with island fare like jerk chicken, a Jamaican favorite.
Lové and family are handling all the cooking themselves, so full dinners won’t be served, but rather sample plates that can be taken home after the celebration.
“I’m only doing it because God told me to be honest,” said Lové, who is buying and cooking without funding or support from any organizations.
Lové and Bullock hope that the evening will not only be a fun night for people, but introduce them to a new tradition and encouraging togetherness among the people in the community.
Even if the event centers around African heritage, it is not for any particular group, Bullock points out. It’s meant for everyone, regardless of race.
“Bring friends or family, just make sure you come out,” she said. “Everyone is welcome.”
Benjamin Nunnally is a freelance writer in Jacksonville. Contact him at email@example.com.
IF YOU GO...
WHAT: “Kwanzaa: The Celebration”
WHEN: Dec. 27 at 6 p.m.
WHERE: Anniston Meeting Center
ADMISSION: Event is free, no reservations required
INFO: Contact Dea Lové at 256-453-5866.