The Greater Columbus community celebration of Kwanzaa moves this year from the King Arts Complex, which is undergoing renovation, to the Ohio History Center.
The seven-day celebration will begin Dec. 26. The local event will run from 4 to 8 p.m. each day, and is a joint effort between the Ohio History Connection and Tawi Family Village.
“Tawi Family Village has for many years led a citywide Kwanzaa event,” said Lyn Logan-Grimes, the African American history experience developer at the Ohio History Connection. “So I approached them this year about hosting it here at the Ohio History Connection, which is a first for us. That’s really exciting.”
Phyllis Ransom, who holds the position of Elder with Tawi Family Village, is one of the chief organizers of the event.
“It’s a time of the year to look at the harvest that we have made as a community and to celebrate whatever good things have happened and use the bad things to help us plan for the coming year. Everybody gets together and has a great time celebrating each other,” she said.
Each day of the event celebrates a different principle.
Day One, for example, pays tribute to Unity (“Umoja,” in Swahili) and Day Two to Self-Determination (“Kujichagulia”).
“Every day will be chock-full of visual and performing arts,” Logan-Grimes said. “Each day will start off with a drum procession of elders and a libation and candlelighting ceremony, and will end with a drum circle as well.”
This year’s event will be spread out over the Ohio History Center.
“It’s a huge space, so this year we will have multiple things going on at the same time. We’ve not been able to do that before,” Ransom said. “We’re anxious to see how it’s going to work, and we’re hoping that it will work well for us.”
Large-scale performances will take place on the auditorium stage, and a “red carpet” area will provide a space for other performances.
The Thiossane West African Dance Company will showcase the dance of West Africa on Dec. 26, the Bankema Dancers will highlight the traditions of Uganda on Dec. 27 and participants from the Caribbean Festival will demonstrate dance from several Caribbean islands on Dec. 28.
Storytellers, or “griots,” will have their own corner, and there will be an area where kids can do arts and crafts, making bracelets and greeting cards and wrapping paper.
The Maroon Arts Group will sponsor an oral history booth, “Deliver Black Dreams.”
“That’s a booth where kids or adults can go in and talk about their dreams, which will be recorded,” Ransom said.
The Maroon Arts Group will also be sponsoring “Pitch Black” on Dec. 29.
There, “African Americans can come in and present their business concepts, and a panel will be there to discuss what they present. Whoever is chosen will get funds to promote their product,” Ransom said.
The Afro-American Museum will host a pop-up exhibit, and Suge’s Smoke House Catering will be on hand with barbecue.
Local merchants will set up on second floor of the center.
Guests are welcome to come and go as they please throughout the free event.
“We know that people tend to leave after the big performances, so we’ve gotten wise and hold those back to the end of the evening,” Ransom said.
“It’s going to be fun-filled and it’s going to be exciting,” Ransom said. “We just hope that people come in and have a great time, and learn a little bit about Kwanzaa and the importance of it and help us celebrate.”
At a glance:
Kwanzaa will be celebrated from 4 to 8 p.m. every day from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 at the Ohio History Center, Interstate 71 and East 17th Avenue. Masks required. Admission is free. 614-297-2300, www.ohiohistory.org
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