Celebrate Culture!

KWANZAA 2012: First Fruits of the Harvest

December 29, 2012

A seven-day spiritual celebration founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years. The name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits of the harvest.” Families gather for the great annual feast of Karamu. Celebrants enjoy

traditional African and African-American traditional dishes such as sesame seeds, peanuts, sweet potatoes, corn bread, collard greens, and spicy sauces. Special care is given at Karamu to highlight a rainbow of tasty Kwanzaa treats connecting with the red, black, and green colors of the “Bendera ya Taifa,” or Kwanzaa flag. Green symbolizes the fertile land of Africa, and hope; black, the color of the people; and red, the struggle for freedom.


Museum Food Court 11 am – 4:45 pm — Enjoy Kwanzaa treats in grand style! Visitors can sample delicious Kwanzaa signature dishes, rooted in the African- American cultural heritage, crafted by award-winning chef B. Smith.

Noon–4 pm

Kwanzaa International Marketplace



  • Enter to win a “Dinner for 2” gift certificate at B. Smith’s NYC and special

    Museum Food Court vouchers at the Museum table.

  • Test your culinary I.Q. with the folks at the James Beard Foundation table who know that food matters.
  • Add your personal touch to our Kwanzaa foods mural and create your very own Kwanzaa chef’s hat at the Read a Recipe for Literacy table.
  • Learn how you can get involved at Yorkville Common Pantry and take home a free easy-to-do vegetable dish recipe.
  • Swing by the WBGO Jazz 88.3FM table to learn more about America’s art form based in the African-American experience. 

Noon Underground System Afrobeat
Brooklyn’s Underground System Afrobeat is a huge band with a huge sound. Members can be found sharing the stage and/or recording with groups such as Antibalas, FELA! performers, Miguel Zenon, and more. Follow the parade and enjoy the dance party!

12:15 pm Linda Humes — Host
Welcome by master storyteller and actress Linda Humes.

12:30 pm Soul Steps
New York-based, Caribbean-influenced Soul Steps speaks the universal language of rhythm. Engage in the artistic legacy of step, as the ensemble celebrates its early roots from the gumboot dancers in the mines of South Africa to its present day style.

1:15 pm Restoration Dance Theatre Company
Restoration Dance Theatre Company performs African, Caribbean, jazz, and modern dances. Beautiful costumes complete the spectacle. This premiere multi-disciplinary arts training program in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, inspires thousands of young people with self-determination, empowerment, and responsibility.

2:15 pm Karamu with B. Smith
Iconic restaurateur, author, television personality, and pioneering transcultural lifestyle expert B. Smith shares her reflections on what Kwanzaa and its symbolic foods mean to her. She will offer helpful tips on how to create a Kwanzaa Karamu feast that inspires togetherness and unity. A question-and-answer session will follow, along with a special book signing of B. Smith’s Entertaining and Cooking for Friends, one of the first books on entertaining by an African-American author.

3:30 pm Balance Dance Theatre
Under the artistic direction of Brooklyn-born, award-winning choreographer Obediah Wright, Balance Dance Theatre is an intergenerational dance company that uses the power of dance to inspire families and communities worldwide. “Guardians” from Higher Ground: Still Rising!, based on African folklore, will lead into Black in the Box, an electrifying new work.

4 pm Closing Ceremony

4:15 pm Film Screening: The Black Candle | KAUFMANN THEATER
The Black Candle, narrated by world-renowned poet Maya Angelou, is a vibrant landmark documentary film that uses Kwanzaa as a vehicle to explore and celebrate the African-American experience. Popcorn included!

For more information on Kwanzaa, visit: OfficialKwanzaaWebsite.org 

Click here to learn how B. Smith cooks delicious Southern-Style grits.

Click here to watch Soul Steps dancers teach Bronx Students to be active and follow their dreams on CBS NY.

Click here to check out Underground Afrobeat System at the congahead.com studio.


The Presenting Sponsor of the Museum’s cultural programming is MetLife Foundation.

Support for Kwanzaa 2012! is made possible, in part, by the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc., and the family of Frederick H. Leonhardt.

Kwanzaa 2012! is co-presented with Community Works and New Heritage Theatre Works.

The Kwanzaa Marketplace is organized by the Harlem Arts Alliance.