Universal Kwanzaa Alliance was founded by the husband and wife team of Mshujaa-Brother Robert and Mpaiji-Sister Wanda Dickerson in December of 2015 under the inspiration of their legendary friend, mentor and advisor Brother KENNY GAMBLE, founder of the renowned Philadelphia International Records, Universal Charter Schools and the Philadelphia Community of Leader (PCOL) and its CULTURAL COMMITTEE.
Brother Robert and Sister Wanda, the creators, founders and directors of the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble and Universal Pasha Karate School under the UNITY COMMUNITY CENTER a non-profit organization, located in Camden, NJ and Philadelphia, Pa., which started in 1983, has grown to a multifaceted organization making national and international accomplishments. The Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble performed for the creator of KWANZAA, Dr. Maulana Karenga since 1998 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New York City, Newark, New Jersey and other areas on the East Coast.
In December of 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, Brother Robert and Sister Wanda were asked by Dr. Maulana Karenga and Dr. Segun Shabaka to host Philadelphia’s Kwanzaa Program, which was a very huge success with some of the best attended events for Dr. Maulana Karenga in Philadelphia for many years.
Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble performed at the KWANZAABRATION event, which was produced by Bumi Fernandez (CEO of ODUNDE) the wonderful daughter of legendary Lois Fernandez's, (founder of ODUNDE) and also with the help of Kenny Gamble. The KWANZAABRATION event was held on December 28, 2013 at Kenny Gamble's Universal Audenried Charter School. This event was also the inspiration for Brother Robert and Sister Wanda to continue the Kwanzaa programs for the PCOL Cultural Committee.
Brother Robert and Sister Wanda are also proud to state that the 1st Annual Kwanzaa Program hosted by them (Unity Community Center's Universal Kwanzaa Alliance) on December 26, 2015, and sponsored by Philadelphia Community of Leaders (PCOL) was the true birth and beginning of the (PCOL) CULTURAL COMMITTEE in January 2016. Brother Robert and Sister Wanda also introduced the JUNETEETH EVENT to the PCOL Cultural Committee, inviting Kofi Asante to chair the event. Special thanks, to KENNY GAMBLE, wife Faatimah, Universal, PCOL Cultural Committee and Executive Secretary Sister Melody Muhammad.
In July of 2007 Brother Robert and Sister Wanda Dickerson were given their beautiful African names from Dr. Maulana Karenga while attending the Kawaida Institute of Pan-African Studies 30th Annual Seminar in Los Angeles, California. Robert was given the name Mshujaa (Warrior) and Wanda's name Mpaiji (Generous one). Their respect and love for Dr. Maulana Karenga and his wife Tiamoya as world renowned great leaders has been historical and a wonderful friendship for many years.
They have also instituted the Kawaida and KWANZAA principles in their programs at the Unity Community Center since 1984. The Unity Community Center is the mother organization of all its discipline, cultural and musical programs that have made national and/or international accomplishments such as the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble, Universal Pasha Karate School, UPK Pasha Generals (Close Order Military Style Drill Team), UCC Praise Dance Ministry, UCC Royal Brass Band and the UCC LITTLE JAZZ GIANTS. (www.UnityCommunity.com)
The Universal Kwanzaa Alliance mission is to encourage and inspire our people of African descent and especially our wonderful religious communities to realize the values and beauty of celebrating and learning about KWANZAA. Kwanzaa is a cultural celebration of FAMILY, COMMUNITY and CULTURE. And all of our religious institutions and communities will enjoy and appreciate this marvelous celebration and meaning of KWANZAA with it’s 7 major principles of the NGUZO SABA, which should be lived everyday. It is a joy to hear children ages one to our elders over 70 years recite the seven principles after every class. Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).
Brother Robert and Sister Wanda have been together since 1973 and married since 1975 working in African American organizations that are dedicated to uplifting the African American community. Also, from Brother Robert and Sister Wanda's life experiences in religions, which they believe gave them the ability to learn the universal approach to truly uplifting humanity, while teaching their students the value of working with and understanding all people’s ways of life. Their ultimate goal is a universal and a spiritual approach to continue the beauty of uplifting humanity and teaching African American’s their roots, culture, pride and the history of the African Diaspora. They believe that their accomplishments with their group, the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble is the final example or model to prove the value of educating and teaching young people their roots, heritage and history is paramount and of most importance.
We are also so happy and honored to have two great Queens as members and officials of our UNIVERSAL KWANZAA ALLIANCE and the UNITY COMMUNITY CENTER, Queen G and Queen Lubna Muhammad as the host of our 1st Annual KWANZAA ROYAL PAGEANT held at Universal Audenried Charter School on December 16, 2016. More great Kwanzaa and cultural programs to come.