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Kwanzaa Festival Begins Monday

The focus is the Seven Principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

Monday is the start of the seven-day festival of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, now chair of Cal State Long Beach's Department of Africana Studies, in what he called "an audacious act of self-determination."

Kwanzaa's focus is the "Nguzo Saba," the Seven Principles — unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

"The seven principles of Kwanzaa are values that we as Angelenos all hold dear," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

During the week, a candelabrum called a Kinara is lit, and ears of corn representing each child in the family are placed on a traditional straw mat.

African foods such as millet, spiced pepper balls and rice are often served. Some people fast during the holiday, and a feast is often held on its final night.

A flag with three bars — red for the struggle for freedom, black for unity and green for the future — is sometimes displayed during the holiday.

Kwanzaa is based on the theory of Kawaida, which espouses that social revolutionary change for black America can be achieved by exposing blacks to their cultural heritage.

"The celebration of the 45th anniversary of Kwanzaa is a significant marker and milestone in itself, not only because of what it says about the expansive message and enduring meaning that Kwanzaa has for millions throughout the world African community, but also because of what it says about us as a people," Karenga wrote in his annual founder's message.

"For it speaks to our profound commitment to self-determination, to cultural reaffirmation and the celebration of ourselves; to our right and responsibility to speak our own special cultural truth in a multicultural world and to the practice and promotion of Kwanzaa's core principles, the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the hub and hinge on which the holiday turns."

A poll commissioned by the National Retail Federation and conducted by BIGresearch Oct. 4-11 found that 2 percent of the 8,585 adults surveyed said they would celebrate Kwanzaa, compared to 90.5 percent for Christmas and 5.4 percent for Hanukkah.

A Kwanzaa parade will be held along Crenshaw Boulevard Monday.

The theme of the 35th annual Kwanzaa Gwaride Parade and Festival will be "A New Paradigm," according to R.W. Akile for People of Color, which organizes the parade and festival.

Linda Jay, a community activist and author of the book "I Was There," will be the Iyaba (queen) of the parade and filmmaker Walter Powell will be the Oba (king).

The parade is set to begin at noon at the corner of Crenshaw and Adams boulevards, then head south along Crenshaw to Leimert Park, where it will conclude. A festival will follow in Leimert Park.

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