NASHUA - If Kwanzaa means taking time for family, culture and community, then a local party marking the seven-day celebration exceeded that goal.
About 60 people gathered Saturday and converted the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua function hall into a place of unity, creativity and faith - three of the seven principle values that sustain the Pan-African holiday.
They rekindled friendships and made new acquaintances while eating home-cooked food and revisiting their African heritage. Children ran around the hall with boundless energy, and several parents eagerly preserved the event with camcorders.
They clapped and sang along as Bruce Smith and Olga Tines-Smith brought the crowd back in time with musical medleys, only to be brought back further in time by the Bamidele Dancers and Drummers. Tines-Smith had the audience truly engaged with sing-along spirituals such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Deep River.”
“Everyone has heritage. Everyone has presence,” said the Rev. Bertha Perkins, pastor of the New Fellowship Baptist Church.
Perkins told the crowd that when African-Americans look at themselves in the mirror there is no denying who they are and where they are from.
The event was the 11th Kwanzaa celebration hosted by Southern New Hampshire Outreach for Black Unity. Participation at some past celebrations had ebbed, mainly because people had moved out of the area, but now many are interested again in the holiday, said emcee Andrew Smith.
Any peaceful event that can stress family, food and dancing has a positive impact on a community, Smith said. Moreover, Kwanzaa is rich in art and music, and it reconnects African-Americans with their past, he said.
Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-5832 or email@example.com.