Plans to create and change local African-American institutions were revealed Wednesday during Umoja, the first night of the seven-day Kwanzaa celebration.
Kwanzaa, a non-religious holiday centered on African-American and African culture, was established in 1966 by activist Dr. Maulana Karenga and is celebrated by some 4 million blacks nationally. The holiday's seven days correspond to seven principles called Nguzo Saba. The celebration continues in the Langston Hughes Institute, 25 High St.
Derived from an African harvest festival, Kwanzaa focuses on the set of principles, including unity, self-determination and faith. The week-long observance is intended to unite children and families in an affirmation of African heritage.
Dr. Mwalimu Shujaa, a professor of sociology in the University at Buffalo's education organization administration and policy department, announced plans to open an independent culturally based African school called Nile Valley Shule.
Akua Kamau, technical director at the institute, said the center is seeking grants and will raise money to establish a day-care center and health clinic at the Langston Hughes Institute.
"In order to be concerned with our people, you have to be concerned with the total state of being," Ms. Kamau said.
Ms. Kamau said the changes will help the institute, which houses cultural and educational programs, to fit in with plans to locate a $51 million medical campus in the area.
Mayor Griffin wants to develop, along with Buffalo General Hospital, the Buffalo Medical Group and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, a medical complex that would rival national health-care centers like the Cleveland Clinic. The mayor has suggested relocating the Langston Hughes Institute, which has been at the site since 1971.
"We are here to stay," Ms. Kamau said, adding that long-range plans include renovations that will allow the center to offer art shows, operate a restaurant and provide space for the community.
Shujaa, who holds a doctorate in anthropology from Rutgers University and who helped establish the Afrikan People's Action School, an independent African-centered educational institution in Trenton, N.J., said he plans to open a similar school here in September 1991.
"It will be a place where area children can experience cultural affirmation, and it will be dedicated to academic excellence," he said. A committee working on the new school is negotiating for space at the Humboldt YMCA on East Ferry Street, said Dr. Kofi Lomotey, a member of the committee.
During his remarks, Shujaa said there is a difference between schooling and education. African-American children are attending schools that teach them how to fit into a social order in which they are subordinate, he said.
"Education is a much broader way of perpetuating our culture. . . . We must reach out and begin to establish independent African-centered schools, where it is us who establish what should be taught," he told about 200 people who attended.
The program opened with a processional by the Children of Africa singing a song about Kwanzaa accompanied by Emile Latimer's drumming.
Wednesday was Umoja, or unity principle. The remaining principles and the community celebrations are as follows:
Today: Kujichagulia (self-determination), 7 p.m., McKinley High School, 1500 Elmwood Ave. Dr. Imani Fryar will speak, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will hold a rites-of-passage ceremony for young women.
Friday: Ujima (collective work and responsibility), 7 p.m., African-American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Ave. Eva Doyle, a local educator and columnist, will speak; the center's drummers and dancers will perform, and an African marketplace will be available.
Saturday: Ujamaa (cooperative economics), noon, a special children's Kwanzaa program with crafts, sing-alongs and refreshments, African-American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Ave. At 7 p.m., St. Augustine's Center Afrikan Child & Family Institute, 351 Grider St., Dr. Muhammad Kenyatta of the UB Law School will speak; a naming ceremony will be held, and the African marketplace will be available.
Sunday: Nia (purpose), 7 p.m., Metropolitan United Methodist Church, Best and Herman streets. Dr. Peggy Bertram will speak, and gospel groups will perform.
Monday: Kuumba (creativity), 7 p.m., Moot Senior Citizen Center, 292 Orange St. Minister Donald Muhammad of the Nation of Islam will speak, and storytelling and the karamu, or feast, will be held.
The last day of Kwanzaa, Imani (faith), is celebrated at home with friends and family.