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Kwanzaa celebrations kick off at New Black Wall Street Market in Lithonia

At the New Black Wall Street Market in Lithonia, shoppers were treated to musicians and dancers who processed down the hallways.

LITHONIA, Ga. — At the New Black Wall Street Market in Lithonia, shoppers were treated to musicians and dancers who processed down the hallways to kick-off a special Kwanzaa celebration. The festival was put together in just two weeks, with organizers unsure if it would happen due to concerns of rising COVID cases caused by the Omicron variant. 

Nobantu Ankoanda told 11Alive's Karys Belger she was happy to pull something together, especially because she had been celebrating continuously since 1969. 

"We thought this was a good location because it's brand new and it's celebrating Black businesses and Black entrepreneurship," she said.

Ankoanda said she's proud that her children, who are now in their forties, are continuing to teach the lessons of Kwanzaa to their own kids. She's also hoping people in attendance will continue to uphold the principals of Kwanzaa beyond the holiday. 

"This is a way to introduce our culture to our children and so they can practice those principles every day, not just at the end of the year," she added.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga. The goal was to offer people of African descent a holiday to celebrate their heritage and offer an alternative to Christmas. 

Kwanzaa encompasses seven days which are dedicated to the seven principles, also known as the Nguzo Saba. The seven principles are;

Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (Collective work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The symbols of Kwanzaa include the Kinara, which holds the seven candles. The candles are typically red, green and black. The colors are on the Pan-African flag and each one has a different meaning. 

Red symbolized the blood of the ancestors, green represents prosperity, black is for all Black people. 

The Atlanta Kwanzaa Regional Association will be hosting events throughout the weeks to commemorate the holiday in various parts of the Atlanta-Metro area. More information about those events can be found here