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Week full of events planned to celebrate Kwanzaa

The man who founded the cultural holiday Kwanzaa 40 years ago will again return to Buffalo for the weeklong celebration, which opens Tuesday with observance of the guiding principle of Umoja -- or unity -- at a program at 7 p.m. in Langston Hughes Institute, 25 High St.

Maulana Karenga will deliver a special 40th anniversary keynote address during the observance of Kujichagulia -- or self-determination -- at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave.

Karenga, a professor of black studies at California State University in Long Beach, comes to Buffalo each year for the city's Kwanzaa celebration.

Another featured speaker this year will be Dr. Alim Muhammad, minister of health for the Nation of Islam, who will speak about health issues of African-Americans at 7 p.m. Friday during a program celebrating Ujamaa -- or cooperative economics -- in the Delavan-Grider Community Center, 877 E. Delavan Ave.

Leading Buffalo's celebration this year are two young chairwomen who grew up with the holiday -- Makeda Holley, 22, and Sabriyah Amin, 23.

Holley's parents, Sharon and Kenneth Holley, started the local Kwanzaa Committee in 1978. Amin's mother is one of the cultural leaders of the city's African-American community, storyteller Karima Amin, who will be featured speaker at Thursday night's Ujima -- or collective work and responsibility -- celebration in the African-American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Ave.

"It's the 40th anniversary. It's a big thing," says Amin. "We'll have a lot more excitement. The first night is going to be poetry and African dance and storytelling and drums. It's going to be really upbeat."

The highlight of their planning is the Night of Positivity at 7 p.m. next Saturday, the night of Nia -- or purpose -- in the C.R.U.C.I.A.L. Center, 230 Moselle St., which will include a talent show and hip-hop dancing.

Earlier that day, the first Kwanzaa Spelling Bee will be held at noon in the African-American Cultural Center. Fifteen seventh- and eighth-graders will compete. To register and receive the spelling list, students must have a teacher or parent e-mail a request to

The week will conclude at 7 p.m. Dec. 31, the night of Kuumba -- or creativity -- with a Karamu Feast, with no red meat, pork or alcohol, in the Moot Senior Center, 292 High St. Also on the program is an open mic session.


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