Kwanzaa, a celebration of African American culture and community, will be observed at a storytelling event at the Berkeley Public Library’s south branch on Saturday.
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by professor Maulana Karenga of California State University, Long Beach. It is celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 every year.
The holiday is based on seven principles, one for each day of Kwanzaa. They include unity, creativity, faith and other values of African culture. Saturday will be the fifth day, Nia in Swahili, which represents purpose.
Muriel Johnson, an Oakland resident and Berkeley preschool teacher, said she will tell two or three stories for the children that reflect the meaning of Kwanzaa at the event.
“The seven principles are the basis for many African tales,” Johnson said. “The stories I will tell will reflect those principles.”
Linda Perkins, the library’s Children’s Services Manager, said the library has held annual events for Kwanzaa for at least the last seven years. They included storytellers, singers and performers.
“(The Kwanzaa celebration) was designed as a community event and has become more so over the years,” she said. “I have been to a lot of the library’s events and I think this is the one most tied to the community.”
Last year over 50 people attended the celebration at the West Branch, which featured drummers and storytellers.
Kwanzaa is rooted in the ancient first-fruits celebrations of Africa. The holiday revolves around Africa’s harvest celebrations: gathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment and celebration.
Johnson said she may include music and singing in Saturday’s event.
“I have a lot of things in my bag,” she said. “Stories are so important. They are part of an oral tradition, and every one has different morals and meanings.”
The event will be held 4-6 p.m. Saturday at the South Berkeley Library, 1901 Russell Street location.