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Kwanzaa celebrations honor African ancestors, values

The seven-day celebration of Kwanzaa, a holiday that pays tribute to the cultural roots of Americans of African ancestry, will continue this weekend with events across Long Island.

Kwanzaa means "First Fruits of the Harvest" in Swahili and is based on ancient customs of Africa. The African-American and Pan-African holiday, observed from Thursday through Wednesday, was created by African Studies professor Maulana Karenga in 1966.

The holiday is a time for people to come together to honor traditional African values, remember their ancestors and practice gratefulness for blessings, love and joy. Kwanzaa is usually celebrated in addition to Christmas.

"Kwanzaa is important to the black community because it reinforces the community and the importance of each other," Joysetta Pearse, manager of the African American Museum of Nassau County in Hempstead Village, said Thursday.

The holiday is built upon seven principles: Umoja (unity), Kujichagalia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith).

"It is really about celebrating our culture and giving people the seven principles to learn that they are set as guidelines for our life," said Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, who held a Kwanzaa celebration last week.

The following is a list of other area Kwanzaa celebrations:

Operation Get Ahead Inc. will host a free event Friday (Friday) from 6 to 8 p.m. at Kennedy Park, on 335 Greenwich St. in Hempstead Village

The Half Hollow Hills Community Library Dix Hills branch, on 55 Vanderbilt Pkwy. Dix Hills will host a free event Friday at 6:30 p.m.

The African-Atlantic Genealogical Society will host a free event Saturday (Saturday) from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the African American Museum, on 110 N. Franklin St. in Hempstead Village.

The Long Island Children's Museum, 11 Davis Ave., off Charles Lindbergh Boulevard in Garden City, will host an event Sunday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. for $3 with museum admission.

The Freeport Library, 144 W. Merrick Rd. in Freeport, will host a free event Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

The Wyandanch Library, on 14 S. 20th St. in Wyandanch, will host a free event Sunday from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano will hold the third annual Nassau County Kwanzaa Celebration on Monday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Macy's court of Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City.

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