Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia, (Self Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith)
– Seven principles of Kwanzaa (African American holiday, Dec. 26-Jan 1.
For 34 years, Memphis Kwanzaa International has been dedicated to providing health, culture and education to the community using the seven principles of Kwanzaa. The organization, which was founded by the late Adjua Naantaanbuu, is run by her daughter, Dr. Kaia Naantaanbuu, and now is in full-speed execution mode for its Annual Fall Health Fair.
Held in connection with the University of Tennessee, the health fair event will be held Oct. 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Memphis Kwanzaa International center located at 1549 Elvis Presley Blvd.
In addition to basic health care assessments and health education, the event's offerings will include blood pressure, diabetes and dental screenings, HIV Information and bone density tests. The providers will be the University of Tennessee, Southeast Mental Health Center, TENNderCare and Memphis Shelby County Health Center.
Regina M. Hughes, who serves as the coordinator of the health fair and on the board of directors for Memphis Kwanzaa International, said the health fair is designed to promote change.
"Nutritionally, we need to change our eating habits, exercise, and get educated about our conditions and help ourselves," said Hughes "(You) need to get educated about your ailment and be well informed about your condition and how to manage (it) through education."
Memphis' high rates of infant mortality and HIV cases are among many needs that African Americans must address, she said.
"Our African American people need a lot. We need to enlighten our community, claim who we really are. We need to be united as a people. We're some beautiful people. We need help. We need to be who we are, and know that we can make a change. We know what we need. We need to go back to the basics."
Memphis Kwanzaa International is in need of certain things itself.
"We need volunteers – people with gifts and talents. We need mentors, we need money," said Hughes.
The upcoming health fair is one of three held annually in the spring, summer and fall. Hughes notes that Memphis Kwanzaa International is devoted to the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of health.
That implies ongoing outreach, with the group's efforts including a prison outreach program. In the mix of future plans is partnering with area middle schools to help students with such things as learning different dialects.
"I love my people. I see a change needs to be made socially, economically, spiritually," said Hughes.
"I want to make a different cultural, economical, nutritional, spiritual and educational reality. I want to be a catalyst for that change."
NOTE: Upcoming Memphis Kwanzaa International events: a November blood drive with the Red Cross, and a series of events in conjunction with the celebration of Kwanzaa, including the Dec. 28 Founder's Night banquet. Tickets are $40 for the black tie affair in which people are encouraged to wear traditional African attire.