Flint, MI—As the end of the year approaches, residents from Flint are preparing for a seven-day-long Kwanzaa celebration. 

Every night for a week starting on Dec. 26, a single candle is lit to observe the nguzo saba, or the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work), Ujamaa (cooperation, social economy), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith).

For one group of Flint creatives, the third day of Kwanzaa, Ujima, represents the importance of collective work and responsibility. To celebrate this quality of the community, businesses like Comma Bookstore in downtown Flint have organized an event showcasing Flint talent.

Given the name Ujima Showcase, the event will feature a host of local artists including Jo Ikigai who recently won audience favorite at a local talent competition.  Other acts will include Figga Da Kid, Him Him, Vaughn Lambo, King Klei and Telor Sharise. 

The Ujima Showcase will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 28 between 6 and 9 p.m. outside Comma Bookstore.

Brittani Ward, an organizer for the Ujima Showcase, said the event came out of a wish to highlight local Black talent. Despite living in Detroit and another of the event’s organizers, Shaquille Greene, living in New York, Ward said there was a lot of interest in putting together a proper celebration. 

“He (Greene) reached out to me and other Flint natives. A lot of their friends had recently dropped albums or EPs so we thought it would be dope to have an event for these artists to showcase their talents and skillsets in their own city,” Ward said.

Ward added that being able to combine the showcase with Kwanzaa was an important aspect of the planning process. She said Kwanzaa is a holiday that even today is still not widely understood and that any light that can be shed on its significance, should be.

“You know, raising Kwanzaa awareness is important. I still think that people don’t know exactly what it is or what it’s about but they do know it should be important,” Ward said. 

Kwanzaa has been celebrated across the country since its inception 55 years ago. Maulana Karenga, the Black activist who created Kwanzaa, first thought up the holiday as a way to celebrate Black culture, community and identity. 

For those looking to celebrate Kwanzaa in a COVID-19-friendly way, the Flint Black Lives Matter chapter and other community partners including the NAACP will be hosting a zoom meeting every day between Sunday, Dec. 26 and Saturday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.

Each day, the meetings will discuss one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. 

Santiago Ochoa is Flint Beat's Latinx Community reporter. He is always looking to write about anything Flint or Latinx. He especially enjoys investigative reporting and human-interest stories. A communications...