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Camaraderie is key to Kutembelea celebration

February 17, 2001|By ANTHONY LONGORIA, Staff Writer

Music, locals and tented booths descended on the Bucklin Park green here Saturday to celebrate the 11th annual Kutembelea, a celebration honoring Black History Month.

Cloudy weather proved accommodating for the day's event, which attracted a diversity of locals to the festivity.

Speakers, singers, karate demonstrators and ballet folklorico dancers were all featured on the informal stage.

The celebration also featured several booths with everything from food to crafts to service organizations.

The local Kutembelea celebration was started in 1990 by Donald Walker, a local educator, when he felt that a visual celebration of black history should be offered in the Imperial Valley.

Meaning "to visit," Kutembelea was formed to bring together and encourage camaraderie between locals, agencies and organizations and to display a "show and tell" of local protective services.


It is fitting that Kutembelea means "to visit," for there were residents of various ethnicities, cultures, and cities at the event visiting with each other.

"It's a time for getting together," said El Centro resident Mary Clay. "It's a time to visit and get together and visit friends you haven't seen for awhile."

She said that seeing children involved in the event was one of the reasons she comes to Kutembelea.

Clay said the "nice weather" brought more people to the event this year.

Pastor John Nettles of Second Baptist Church in El Centro has been coming to the event since 1993.

"[Kutembelea] means to keep your heritage and culture going and also to interact with other cultures," Nettles said.

He said the event brings community awareness of black history and education for the youth in attendance.

"It's a beautiful mixture," Nettles said of the diversity of cultures and locals at the event.

The Afro-Black American Club of Central Union High School sponsored the event.

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