Elegba Folklore Society, Richmond's Cultural Ambassador, presents the 2016 Capital City Kwanzaa Festival on Friday, December 30, 5:00 p.m. – 11:00pm, returning this year to The Altria Theater, 6 N. Laurel Street, Richmond, Virginia. Newly renovated and named, this venue was formerly known as the landmark
The 2016 Capital City Kwanzaa Festival presents a carefully planned series of events that please the palette of attendees and capture the spirit and the significance of the Kwanzaa holiday, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, now in its 50th year. The festival's main stage is alive with music, dance and message presented to strengthen families and galvanize the community. The African Market will be open with food and shopping. There will be children's events, workshops and more in this nationally recognized, regionally attended observance of the Kwanzaa (quahn-zah) holiday. The Capital City Kwanzaa Festival is one of the largest Kwanzaa celebrations on the east coast. The festival pays homage to the 50th Anniversary of the holiday and Dr. Karenga's message, "…Repairing, Renewing and Remaking our World."
The Ancestral Libation and Candle Lighting Ceremony set the tone for the day. Attendees are invited to come and experience the Kwanzaa holiday right from the start. To observe this Pan-African holiday of unity, strength, clarity and solidarity based on reconnection with our essential African value systems, the 2016 Capital City Kwanzaa Festival's thematic focus is based on philosophy foundational to the Kwanzaa holiday, recommitting to our highest cultural ideals in thought and practice. African Americans are the descendants of the creators of every aspect of the world's development. African Americans have influenced every aspect of America's development. Though we survived America's enslavement of the generations of our fore parents and their prowess, we are navigating its legacy as it shows up in daily occurrences of racism. This affects our world-view, our self-view and our sense of self-worth. When our cultural memory and our spiritual truth can affirm and uphold the realities of our identity, then and now, in the 50th Anniversary of this holiday observance, we are, in theme, Celebrating Our Magnificence.
The Nia Sessions are ongoing workshops that will also offer perspectives toward personal and community triumph. Watoto Kwanzaa presents, of course, Heritage Crafts For Children, a cornerstone of the Capital City Kwanzaa Festival. (Watoto means children in Kiswahili.) The event's keynote speaker is the widely respected Dr. Patricia A. Newton aka Nana Dr. Akosua Akyaa, an international specialist in behavioral medicine and a proponent of the psycho-social-spiritual wellbeing of African people.
Festival events will occur as follows:
5:00pm The African Market Opens, filled with delicious foods plus books, unique handcrafted and imported items, art, home décor, natural body care, clothing, jewelry and more. Remains open throughout the event.
6:00pm The Pouring of Ancestral Libation and Kwanzaa Candle Lighting Ceremony, Affirmation of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles and the ancestors upon whose shoulders we stand. The lighting of candles and the ceremony will feature a call and-response affirmation. The Elegba Folklore Society's performing company will lead the ceremony.
6:30pm Breeze The Poet. A professional spoken word artist, Breeze is known for his to-the-point, transparent writing and speaking style that exposes current events, relationships, history and his personal experience to gift audiences with a Serenity Song: Whole Hymns for Broken Peace, also the title of his book. Having performed at the Apollo Theater and elsewhere nationally, this Richmond native is a Grand Slam Champion many times over. He expresses himself in a way that has been called, "preacher-like," and he says he was just sent to show the people their beauty inside his words.
7:00pm Opening Processional. Led by Elegba Folklore Society, the leaders of The Nia Sessions join to greet the audience and present an overview of each session. The Society's performers will also offer African Dance, Music and the Oral Tradition. These dancers, drummers, and singers focus primarily on West Africa to spur an evolving understanding of the cultural and historical underpinnings of the dance and its music while showing its relationship to the United States. Further, audiences develop an appreciation for the dynamic nature and contemporary influence of this timeless art form.
7:30pm The Nia Sessions and Watoto Kwanzaa Begin. Included are Reiki Master, Richard C. Yates, and other spiritual workers of The Joyce M. Branch Healing Place – alternative approaches to health maintenance, Stand for Justice with Lynetta Thompson who will discuss social issues for 2017, Do For Self in the 21st Century – encourages maximum productivity, with Azibo Turner, Healing Racial Trauma with peace education advocate, Ram Bhagat -- and more. S. Ross Browne, visual artist and educator will facilitate Watoto Kwanzaa activities. The Nia Sessions will be ongoing from 7:30p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
8:00pm Dr. Patricia A. Newton Speaks. The festival's keynote speaker will unpack the event theme from the place of the psycho-social-spiritual wellbeing of African people. The CEO and Medical Director of the Black Psychiatrists of America and Medical Director of Newton & Associates, PA, specialists in Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Patricia Newton, M.D., MPH, M.A., aka Nana Dr. Akosua Akyaa, also lectures in Ghana, South Africa, England, Spain, Senegal, Egypt, Ethiopia and Brazil. Her practice concentration is in the areas of anxiety disorders — post traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and social phobia. She has served as a consultant to the Congressional Black Caucus' Brain Trust for health care policy development. She is currently in the process of a book launch entitled Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder, which will publish in three languages -- English, Spanish and Portuguese — later this year. Dr. Newton has worked with traditional and indigenous healers of South America, Ghana, Senegal and South Arica, and she is an enstooled female king and queen mother in the Asante region of Ghana. A divisional chief, a Dompiahene, of the Agogo Traditional area, she is one of the first females to serve in this capacity and has the full rights afforded Asante royalty. Her topic for the 2016 Capital City Kwanzaa Festival follows the event's theme, Celebrating Our Magnificence. She will entertain questions from the audience and also facilitate a small group consultation.
9:00pm Kenya Safari Acrobats. For more than 20 years, Kenyan acrobat, husband and father Jacob Kalama with his wife Karen and their company have dazzled audiences with the command of their bodies, timing and balance. The shows, which tour around the world, combine athleticism and education so that audiences can learn about aspects of Kenyan folklore and the Kiswahili language, also the language used to context the Kwanzaa holiday. The company trains daily, and the Kalamas have a school in Mombassa for developing new talent. Designed for families and fun, the Kenya Safari Acrobats will cause audiences to hold their breaths and cheer at once.
10:00pm Wildfire. Rooted in Senegal from the blood of the Mandinka to the shores of North America, Wildfire is a reggae artist, songwriter and producer. He sings about peace, love and African awareness through the inspiration of reggae music. Just returning to Virginia from a seven-city tour with Ghana's Papa Wastik, Wildfire is making his third appearance at the Capital City Kwanzaa Festival.
11:00 p.m. Festival Closes.