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Kwanzaa candles
Joyce Harris, Family and Friends
Published: 21 December 2017

2017 KWANZAA Festival of Events in Portland

Celebrating Family, Community and Culture

Theme: “Practicing the Principles of Kwanzaa: Repairing, Renewing and Remaking Our World”

All events are free.


Tuesday, December 26 • 3:30 pm-5:30 pm
Matt Dishman Community Center
77 NE Knott St.

UMOJA - Unity
First Day of Kwanzaa: Unity in Our Families and Communities
Libation, Umoja Candle Lighting Ceremony, Drumming, Poetry

Guest Speaker: Dr. Darryl Tukufu, Original Simba Wachanga (Young Lions Rites of Passage Program)
Special Performance: Khari TuRe’ Tukufu, Conscious Rapper from Memphis, TN
African Marketplace, Make a Kwanzaa Keepsake, Refreshments


Wednesday, Dec. 27

KUJICHAGULIA - Self Determination
Plan a celebration with family and friends at home or in a special community space


Thursday, Dec. 28 • 5-7:30 pm
Billy Webb Elks Lodge
6 N. Tillamook

UJIMA - Collective Work and Responsibility
Diverse and Empowered Employees of Portland (DEEP)
Candlelighting Ceremony, Dancing, Food


Friday, Dec 29 • 6:30-8:30 pm
Umoja Center
4941 NE 17th Ave.

UJAMAA - Cooperative Economics

The Importance of Cultural Traditions - Nkenge Harmon Johnson
Libation and Storytelling-Michael Grice
Candle Lighting and History - Joyce Harris, Mother Kwanzaa
Music by Yugen Rashad and Dialog, Special Guest Paul Knauls, Sr.
Remembering Charlotte Lewis, Community Artist


Saturday, Dec 30 • 10:30 am - noon
N. Portland Neighborhood Library
512 N. Killingsworth St.

Kwanzaa Family Celebration

Storytime 10:30-11 am
Candle Lighting with Joyce Harris 11-11:30 am
Kwanzaa Family Craft 11:30 am-12 pm
Light refreshments provided


Sunday, Dec 31

Gather family and friends and celebrate this day of Creativity with a Karamu (Feast) filled with good food and lively music!


Monday, Jan 1

Spend this Day of Reflection, Renewal, and Recommitment to Practice the 7 Principles with Family and Friends


All events are free. For more information, call (503) 288-8429.



The Kinara holds seven candles to reflect the seven principles which are the foundation of Kwanzaa. The Mkeka (place mat) made of straw is suggested because it is traditional, cloth with an African print makes an adequate substitute. Households without any children should place an ear of corn on the place mat to symbolize the African concept of social parenthood. All seven symbols are creatively placed on top of the place mat.



The Kinara along with the other symbols of Kwanzaa should dominate the room, which should be given an African motif. The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green. Original art and sculpture may be displayed as well.

GIFTS Kuumba (creativity) is greatly encouraged. The giving of gifts during Kwanzaa should be affordable and of an educational or artistic nature. Gifts are usually exchanged between parents and children and traditionally given on January 1st, the last day of Kwanzaa. However, gift giving during Kwanzaa may occur at any time.



The Kwanzaa Karamu is traditionally held on December 31st (participants celebrating New Year's Eve, should plan their Karamu early in the evening). It is a very special event as it is the one Kwanzaa event that brings us closer to our African roots. The Karamu is a communal and cooperative effort. It is important to decorate the place where the Karamu will be held in an African motif that utilizes a red, black, and green color scheme. A large Kwanzaa setting should dominate the room where the karamu will take place. A large Mkeka should be placed in the center of the floor where the food should be placed creatively and made accessible to all for self-service. Prior to and during the feast, an informative and entertaining program should be presented.

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