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Sisters kick off Kwanzaa film series

The Baba sisters say they don't fit the standard definition of cool.

They don't spend much time texting from cell phones or musing about the latest fashions. They have a business to run.

Tajiya, 21, Keita, 17, and Saba Naunet, 13, created EYI Publications about a year and a half ago. (The acronym is for Entrepreneurs of Youth and Integrity.)

Their company produces animation films and digital media, such as web pages. They work from an office in east Charlotte.

This is not just a hollow dream. On Sunday, the sisters will present their fourth film, at the Art House in the North Davidson Street arts district.

The 30-minute film is called "Kwanzaa at My House," and it's planned as the first in a series for 2011.

They decided to release their film a day after the conclusion of the annual Kwanzaa celebration of family, community and culture to make a point.

The Baba sisters want to encourage children and adults to celebrate Kwanzaa all year rather than just Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, when it's officially observed.

The film project itself will keep the celebration alive in their lives.

Kwanzaa, a Swahili word for "first fruits" or "first harvest," is a time to reconnect with family and community.

For seven days, participants focus on a different principle - among them creativity, purpose, self-determination and collective work and responsibility.

The sisters plan to produce and release seven more Kwanzaa films this year, exploring each of the seven principles.

"We were inspired by the Christmas shows that we watch," Tajiya said. "We said, 'It would be great to have something for Kwanzaa.'"

Of course, the younger siblings still have to balance their business careers with their school work. The family lives in University City, and the younger two are schooled at home by their mother, Sankofa Baba.

Tajiya has taken classes through an online college in Australia. She hopes to become a naturopathic physician while building the business.

"Animation is really difficult," their mother said. "It could take months to do a 15-minute animation. It's a lot of work, and you have to love it."

From their humble beginnings - including a clunky old PC computer barely capable of running the evolving stream of animation software - the sisters hope in the long run to expand their company and create jobs for others.

"My sisters and I want to see this grow into a major conglomerate," Tajiya said. "We really want to take this as high as the stars."