Monday, December 08, 2008

The Black Candle: Kwanzaa Gets Its Own Movie

"Mazao", "Mkeka", "Kinara", "Muhindi", "Mishumaa Saba", "Kikombe cha Umoja", "Zawadi"--any of these Swahili words look familiar to you? No? Here's their translation respectively: The
"crops", "mat", "candle holder", "corn", "seven candles", "unity cup", and "gifts". These are the seven basic symbols used to observe Kwanzaa, the week long cultural celebration born out of the 60's Black Panther and Civil Rights Movement observed by millions generally Dec. 26th-January 1st.

Kwanzaa literally means "first fruits" and for many cultures is a time to reflect on "Nguza saba", the seven empowering principles of the holiday: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Visit the official Kwanzaa website HERE to learn more about its principles and its founder, Dr. Maulana Karenga.

But before we get to Kwanzaa, we are bombarded with Christmas movies on the big and small screens. "Miracle on 37th Street", "Claus", "Frosty The Snowman" are traditional American classics during the festive season. And now thanks to award winning author and filmmaker, M. K. Asante Jr., Kwanzaa has it own timeless movie, "The Black Candle" ready to become the new film tradition of the holiday season.

Featuring narration from renown poet, Dr. Maya Angelou, and music from multiple Grammy nominated jazz vocalist, Nnenna Freelon, "The Black Candle" takes us back to the beginnings of the "first fruits" here in America with rare archival footage and insightful commentary then brings us forward with a new cinematic perspective.

But Asante didn't just focus his lens on America, the film was shot around the world including Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean, giving audiences a global understanding of just how inclusive the observance of Kwanzaa can really be.

During his recent visit to LA I talked with Asante, aka "M.K.", about his empowering new project, independent filmmaking,how the principles of Kwanzaa influenced the Obama campaign, and more. Take a listen!

Visit "The Black Candle" website to get more information about the film and screenings. And learn more about "M.K." and his other award-winning films on his site,


B.Harris said...

This film is so inspirational. I loved it and will celebrate Kwanzaa with my family from now on. Thanx Hollywood & Asante!

Nina Micheaux said...

This is a wonderful post. I've recently had the pleasure of watching this movie in New York at a film festival and it was breathtaking. This is one of the best movies I've ever seen and I hope more people are able to see it. As Maya Angelou says, "it's time to remember." said...

I hope the film is seen by young people. It saddens me when you talk to kids, especially African-American kids, and they have no clue of their history or their ancestors' contribution to the world outside of Hip Hop and sports.

I'm also looking forward to seeing what's next for MK. He's got so much passion and energy. said...

When he said he was the son-in-law of Nnenna Freelon I had to smile. Nnenna is a friend of mine. Earlier this year I interviewed her for another website called Empower News Magazine. I'm going to post that interview next.