Sah Maat (left) and Mama Ayodele Kofie poured libations during the celebration of the principle of Imani (faith) at Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church on the last day of Kwanzaa on January 1, 2023. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku/The Tri-State Defender Archives)

The seven-day observance of Kwanzaa kicks off with two celebrations of the principle of Umoja – Unity – on Tuesday (December 26).

Mid-South Kwanzaa, Inc., which is coordinating celebrations throughout the week, will get the annual cultural heritage observance going with a gathering at the Orange Mound Community Center, 2590 Park Ave. at 10:30 a.m.

The Umoja focus continues at 3:30 p.m. when the Shelby County Board of Commissioners Legislative Black Caucus sponsors its second annual celebration at the Kukutana African American History and Cultural Museum at 1036 Firestone Ave.

Founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 during the aftermath of the Watts riot, the African-American holiday annually is embraced as an opportunity for African Americans to “celebrate themselves and their history.”

Historically each year, millions of African Americans gather with friends and family throughout Kwanzaa week to honor the holiday’s seven founding principles:

Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the seven principles, collectively known as the Nguzo Saba.

During Kwanzaa, participants greet each other with the Swahili phrase, Habari gani? Translated, it means “What’s happening?” “What’s the news?”

Each day’s principle is given in response.

Here is a list of the other principle-based celebrations spearheaded by Mid-South Kwanzaa, Inc.:

DAY TWO – Wednesday, Dec. 27

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

Time: 6 p.m.

Place: Abyssinian M. B. Church, 3890 Millbranch Rd.

DAY THREE – Thursday, Dec. 28

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

A visit will be made to the Northeastern Complex (state prison for men) in Tiptonville, TN.

DAY FOUR – Friday, Dec. 29

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

Time: 3 p.m.

Place: McFarland Community Center, 4955 Cottonwood

Time: 6 p.m.

Place: Respect the Haven CDC, Southland Mall

DAY FIVE – Saturday, Dec. 30

Nia (Purpose)

Time: Noon

Place: Auction Block at Main and Auction

Time: 3 p.m.

Place: The Vineyard, 4715 Elvis Presley Blvd.

DAY SIX – Sunday, Dec. 30

Kuumba (Creativity)

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Place: Providence A.M.E. Church, 384 Decatur St.

DAY SEVEN – Monday, Jan. 1

Imani (Faith)

Time: 3 p.m.

Place: Abyssinian M.B. Church, 3890 Millbranch Rd.

(For more information, contact Osupa Moon at 901-237-1705 or Frances Barnes at 901-606-9214.)