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Kwanzaa Celebrates Storytelling

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The annual seven day Kwanzaa celebration continues through Wednesday. The theme for this year's events, which began last week, is "Kwanzaa: The Seven Degrees of Knowledge." Events will include the revival of one traditional source of knowledge in African American culture.

Storytelling is about much more than entertainment in most cultures. It's an oral tradition that passes down a wealth of knowledge, personal histories, and valuable lessons for the future.

That's why, this year, local Kwanzaa organizers are including Black storytelling in the celebration.

Sharon Holly is one of the founders of Tradition Keepers: Black Storytellers of Western New York.

Holly said storytelling is an appropriate activity for the fifth night of Kwanzaa Monday, which highlights the African principal of Nia, or purpose.

"It gives people a chance to go back and find out what they value, what they hold dear to them. It teaches lessons," said Holly.

"There are just so many attributes to storytelling and I think that's why it's becoming popular again."

Holly and some other local storytellers formed Tradition Keepers about three years ago in response to the growing community need.

They present a variety of poems, personal and original stories at local events such as this year's Kwanzaa celebration.

Holly said it is a great opportunity for the group to pass on an important tradition.

"We're real excited about getting a chance to come into the community, present stories, present stories, and we're open and welcome others who might be interested in storytelling to give us a call," said Holly.

"We meet once a month and we'd be happy to tell you what's going on storytelling-wise in Western New York."

Tradition Keepers will present their stories and poems for Monday's Kwanzaa Kwanzaa celebration from 7:00 P.M. until 9:00 P.M. at the Flare Community Center on Leroy Avenue.