Kokayi Ajamu, a commodities broker for local corporations and the host of the radio show "The Voices of New Afrika," speaks as the "King" of Kwanzaa during the day-one celebration at the New Chicago Performing Arts Center, 1036 Firestone Ave. Also Pictured: Osupa Moon, president, Mid-South Kwanzaa Inc. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley/The New Tri-State Defender)

Memphis’ annual celebration of the seven-day Kwanzaa holiday is underway, with North Memphis serving as the setting for a day-one observance of the principle of Umoja (unity).

Hosted by Mid-South Kwanzaa, Inc. the Sunday evening observance was held at Dr. Carnita Atwater’s North Chicago Performing Arts Center at 1036 Firestone Ave.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mid-South Kwanzaa is hosting events on three designated days (rather than seven), with those days serving to honor multiple Kwanzaa principles instead of the customary observance of one principle each day.

Celebrating African-American culture, Kwanzaa is observed  Dec. 26 and ends on Jan. 1.

The principles of Kwanzaa are unity (Umoja), self-determination (Kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (Ujima), cooperative economics (Ujamaa), purpose (Nia), creativity (Kuumba) and faith (Imani).

In addition to Umoja, the principle of Kujichagulia was celebrated by Mid-South Kwanzaa on Sunday.

The remainder of the Mid-South Kwanzaa schedule:

Day three (Tuesday, December 28) combines the celebration of the principles of Ujima (collective work and responsibility) and Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics). The observance is set for 7 p.m. at Providence A.M.E. Church, 384 Decatur St.

On day seven (Saturday, January 1), which usually culminates with the celebration of Imani (faith), the principles of Nia (purpose) and Kuumba (creativity), also will be celebrated. The observance is set for 3 p.m. at the New Chicago Performing Arts Center.

Other Kwanzaa observances include:

  • The Shelby County Board of Commissioners Black Caucus will host a celebration of Kwanzaa on Wednesday, Dec. 29, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Mahogany Memphis, 3092 Poplar Ave. Attendees are asked to bring new or lightly used coats and sweaters to support SisterReach.
  • Join the Watoto (children) of ASE’ Academy for the observance of Ujamaa (cooperative economics) at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 29 at the Restoration New Direction Cultural Center, 436 Central Ave. in Coldwater, Mississippi. For more information: 901-292-5099; 405-361-4751.



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