Kwanzaa holiday celebrated

Festival marks African origin, cultural roots


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It was a double dose of joy for Yvonne Manderson this Sunday -- complete with heart palpitations of nervousness and two songs.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/12/2011 (4014 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It was a double dose of joy for Yvonne Manderson this Sunday — complete with heart palpitations of nervousness and two songs.

One song was performed by Manderson, an ode she wrote to celebrate the holiday of Kwanzaa, which came early to Winnipeg this year.

The second song was by participants at the Kwanzaa festivities to wish Manderson a happy 64th birthday, a day she said is particularly meaningful because of health problems she’s had.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Community members gather to celebrate Kwanzaa at the Caribbean Cultural Centre Sunday.

Manderson said she usually sings at family gatherings or church — but admitted to feeling nervousness Sunday before performing the song she wrote.

“I thought I’d put a little Caribbean beat to it,” said Manderson, who was born in Jamaica, lived in England, and then came to Canada in the 1970s.

She says Kwanzaa gives her “a sense of identity,” and the same sense of identity to three of her children attending the event Sunday afternoon.

“I wanted to incorporate it into my family. But at the time I discovered it, my children were all grown up and had moved away, and I just had my two little ones,” she said.

“So I think it would have had more impact when I had my seven children together.

“Because… being a Caribbean person, our African roots were sort of drummed out of us,” Manderson said.

About 80 people attended the celebration, which was at the Caribbean Cultural Centre at 1100 Fife St.

It was organized by the Congress of Black Women of Manitoba.

Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor in California, started Kwanzaa in 1966. It’s considered to be cultural, not religious, and is marked by “Africans of all religious faiths who come together based on the rich, ancient and varied common ground of their Africanness.”

The event included a reading of seven principles which the official Kwanzaa website identifies as unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, co-operative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.


Winnipeg Free Press Esther Raji, 4, enjoys some crafts at Sunday's Kwanzaa celebration.

What is Kwanzaa?


“Kwanzaa is an African-American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture.


“Celebrated from Dec. 26 through to Jan. 1, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name.


“The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase ‘matunda ya kwanza,’ which means ‘first fruits’ in Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most spoken African language.”


— The Official Kwanzaa website

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