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Words, music: A celebration of Kwanzaa

In St. Petersburg, community gathers for annual tradition.

A rhythmic drone from African drums kept people mesmerized or dancing as they participated in the First Night of Kwanzaa event, presented by Gallerie 909 at Pinellas Technical College.

Across the country, Thursday marked the beginning of Kwanzaa, a seven-day, non-religious celebration of family and community that honors African-American ancestry. Compared to Christmas and Hanukkah, the Kwanzaa tradition is still fairly young, having started in 1966.

Approximately 100 people came to the First Night event in St. Petersburg. They listened to passages that explained the meaning of the celebration, with youngsters gathered on the floor in the center of the room so they could experience the festivities up close.

The first-day theme was Ujoma, which means unity in Swahili. The other six principles of Kwanzaa are represented by lighting candles on a Kinara each day: Kujichagulia (self-determination); Ujima (collective work and responsibility); Ujamaa (cooperative economics); Nia (purpose); Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith).

Many other Kwanzaa celebrations can be found around the region by searching “Tampa Bay Kwanzaa celebrations” on the internet and Facebook.

A Kinara holds seven candles representing the principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity); Kujichagulia (self-determination); Ujima (collective work and responsibility); Ujamaa (cooperative economics); Nia (purpose); Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith) [BOYZELL HOSEY | Tampa Bay Times]