Annual V.I. Kwanzaa Events Celebrate Pan-African Traditions

(Submitted by DaraMonifah Cooper)

It’s that time of year when so many have reasons to celebrate and spend quality time with family, friends and community. The Virgin Islands Kwanzaa season is a time and place of refuge for many African Caribbean and African American people as we remember those who have transitioned and enjoy the company of those still present, as well as those to come.

This year we remember Baba Uhuru Ridges, Vincent Henley and many others whose names will be added that transitioned since January. Aggregated annually, the V.I. Kwanzaa 2022-23 schedule is available annually on the Kwanzaa 365 website.

(Submitted by DaraMonifah Cooper)

Pre-Kwanzaa activities included various radio programs and a “Kwanzaa Eve Walk & Wuk” on Sunday from 6 a.m. down the Charlotte Amalie promenade with Chinwe Osaze, from the bus stop across from the Fort Christian parking lot near the Capitol Building/Legislature and ended at the Emancipation Garden in time to catch some of the annual Christmas caroling.

On the first day of Kwanzaa, Monday, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Bordeaux Farmers’ Market, the African Diaspora Youth Development Foundation, Inc. and We Grow Food, Inc. held a formal Umoja (Unity) program that included libation and ancestral roll call, drumming, dancing, the farmer’s report from We Grow Food, Inc. President Elridge Thomas, youth reports by Isis Collier and Majestik Estrada-Petersen, and the Community Ankh Award given to Elder Angelina Jennings.

After musical interludes from the Echo People drummers Isis and Majestik, there was modeling of African clothing from Victorious African Store Plus before the event ended with a vegan meal sponsored by Ras Nashamba-I. The program continued throughout the evening with music by DJ Alpha and the African Marketplace, which allowed for the selling of cultural and African-centered items.

(Submitted by DaraMonifah Cooper)

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
Tuesday, Dec. 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Pressure Spot for the annual Pan African Support Group Kwanzaa Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) Celebration.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
Wednesday, Dec. 28, from 4:30 p.m. at the Center for Sacred Dialogue, top of 2nd Street in Sugar Estate across from Charlotte Amalie High School.

A Celebration of Life booklet/ceremony preparation (a continuation of last year’s event) will take place where people can start creating a written plan for their desired celebration of life for themselves or a loved one. They can also create an outline/vision board for their booklet and other parts of the ceremony, including the colors, imagery, music, aromatic preferences (oils, incense, sage, etc.), foods/drinks, fabric, urn or casket type.

(Submitted by DaraMonifah Cooper)

Different examples and suggestions will be provided, including any that are brought by participants so that others can add ideas to their list, then return to the circle and share them over food, regarding what they chose and why. They would also add everything from who they would prefer from which funeral home, if any, to who would be officiating, to booklet designing/printing and a final resting place or locations/ideas for dissemination of ashes.

This event is donation-based to support the use of the location. Participants are encouraged to bring funeral booklet examples, something to take notes, a financial appreciation offering and vegan refreshments for a mid-afternoon potluck.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
Thursday, Dec. 29, no specific community location/time.

Support new African Caribbean business(es) — This year, Captain Lukata and Chef Benita of BOKETTO sailing catamaran are the highlights. According to the website, “Benita and Lukata offer a wide range of activities from farm tours, historic hikes to meeting with local musicians and artists as well as memorable experiences off land for all their guests to take as intangible souvenirs. With their Caribbean essence, Lukata and Benita indulge their guests in a behind the scene experience of culture, food, fun and the true ‘island life.'”
Donations can be sent directly to them or call/text at 340-643-4867.

Nia (Purpose)
Friday, Dec. 30 No specific community location/time.

Self-gratitude: The community is encouraged to focus on individual self-purpose, talents, and role in the family/community. Also, time can be used to prepare to share what/who they are grateful for during the gratitude circle time on Sunday, Jan. 1, at Brewers Beach.

Kuumba (Creativity)
Saturday, Dec. 31, from 6:30 a.m. and then again from 5:30 p.m.:

Sunrise/Sunset Yoga on Brewers
Ital Ase Botanica & Wedding Services (Blake Family)

Saturday, Dec. 31, from 11 a.m:

Join us at The Art Exchange and let your imagination run wild at the painting, writing, and music stations with Majestik Estrada-Petersen.

The Art Exchange is located at the western end of Main Street in the red I Levin building across from what was the Enid M. Baa Library. The entrance is on the street leading to The  Greenhouse Restaurant and Bar. Press the third button to enter. Call/text: 340-513-7462.

Imani (Faith)
Sunday, Jan. 1, from 2 p.m. ceremony until sunset:

Potluck on Brewers and Sunset Sail* (tentative, based on availability).
Gratitude Circle: Participants should prepare to share what/who they are grateful for. “I am grateful for … (people, persons, organizations, businesses, things, etc.) because (it affects me, however).”

Organizers include the Pan African Support Group, We Grow Food, Inc., Conch Shell Media, LLC, and other individuals. Based on Ujima (collective work and responsibility), everyone will donate and bring ital dishes, drinks, and desserts for the karamu (feast). In addition, tables, canopies, Kwanzaa symbols, and drums are useful for the gathering. Bring your own folding chairs.