by Erin O'Hara , 12/21/2009
Celebrate Kwanzaa at perhaps the City's most significant monument to African history, the African Burial Ground National Monument, the eternal resting place of approximately 15,000 African people dating as far back as the 17th century. Kwanzaa, the weeklong holiday celebrated by millions of people each year, commemorates African-American heritage and culture. Its core traditions focus on seven basic principles, or "Nguzo Saba," including unity, self-determination and faith, and consist of seven symbols, including corn, the unity cup and the kinara, the iconic seven-branched candleholder. The word "Kwanzaa" originates from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza" (first fruits of the harvest). Learn the history of the burial ground in Lower Manhattan at this annual celebration, which offers an entire day of family-friendly programming. The event takes place on December 29, in the middle of the Kwanzaa week, which lasts from December 26 through January 1 each year. At 3pm, attend an arts and crafts workshop and cultivate your creativity, one of the seven basic principles of Kwanzaa. Then, at 6pm, experience the passion of African music up close at an interactive drumming presentation from Songhai Djeli. Finally, at 7pm, a dance performance by students from the Impact Repertory Theatre concludes the night in an exhilarating and festive fashion. Best of all, the whole day is free and open to the public, but reservations are required and going fast! To guarantee your presence at this acclaimed event, call 212-637-2019, or visit nps.gov/afbg for more information.