First day of Kwanzaa sparks celebrations around the Lowcountry

NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - Christmas and Hanukkah are over, but some Lowcountry residents celebrated the first day of Kwanzaa Thursday.

Kwanzaa was founded 47 years ago as a celebration of African heritage. At the core of its philosophy are seven principles. While the holiday isn't a religious one, those who participate in it say it's spiritual for them.

"Christmas is more on the religion, Christianity, faith-based," explains Sara Nesbit, who has been participating in Kwanzaa for 28 years. "Kwanzaa is our community, family, and culture."

"It gives me continuity with Africa and African culture and heritage and traditions," says Mama Abena, who has been practicing it for 45 years."

Mama Abena says it is a value system, a guide for living life.

"Unity and self-determination and purpose and faith, something everyone can celebrate every day."

Thursday's program was in memory of Nelson Mandela who passed away earlier this month

"He's a man that gave his life, every fiber of his bones to the struggle and to help uplift our folks, not just Africans, but people everywhere," says Nesbit.

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration. Friday the Black Nurses Association will hold its annual celebration at the YWCA at 200 Coming Street from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.