Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba, Imani
Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work & Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, Faith
The next stop on my "Traditions of the Holiday - An Educational Tour" is the Kwanzaa celebration. There are many sites around the web that talk about Kwanzaa, but I found a site by the creator of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga. What better source is there to learn about Kwanzaa than his website. This article on Kwanzaa is covering just the basics and a more indepth study would be required to truly understand the meaning of the celebration and the original concepts of why it was created.
Here are some facts about Kwanzaa
~Official Greeting: Joyous Kwanzaa
~Pan-African Colors: Black, Green, Red
~Colors of the candles for the kinara: 1 black candle, 3 red candles, 3 green candles. Here are some directions on lighting the candles.
~Dress: a kaftan is worn by women
~Decorations: each of the seven symbols along with other decorations such as African and African American Art, fruits & vegetables that represent the African harvest celebrations and rewards of group labor, colorful African cloth.
~Observance: Each of the seven days celebrates one of the seven principles. On each of these days the respective candle representing the principle along with the black center candle are lit, a poem or discussion is had on the celebrated principle, and the unity cup is shared. The sixth day is the day of the Kwanzaa Karamu or Kwanzaa Feast. It is customary to invite guest to enjoy this celebration
Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their households with objects of art; colorful African cloth such as kente, especially the wearing of kaftans by women; and fresh fruits that represent African idealism. It is customary to include children in Kwanzaa ceremonies and to give respect and gratitude to ancestors. Libations are shared, generally with a common chalice, Kikombe cha Umoja, passed around to all celebrants. Non-African Americans also celebrate Kwanzaa. The holiday greeting is "Joyous Kwanzaa".
A Kwanzaa ceremony may include drumming and musical selections, libations, a reading of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflection on the Pan-African colors, a discussion of the African principle of the day or a chapter in African history, a candle-lighting ritual, artistic performance, and, finally, a feast (karamu). The greeting for each day of Kwanzaa is Habari Gani? which is Swahili for "What's the News?"
At first, observers of Kwanzaa avoided the mixing of the holiday or its symbols, values, and practice with other holidays, as doing so would violate the principle of kujichagulia (self-determination) and thus violate the integrity of the holiday, which is partially intended as a reclamation of important African values. Today, many African American families celebrate Kwanzaa along with Christmas and New Year's. Frequently, both Christmas trees and kinaras, the traditional candle holder symbolic of African American roots, share space in Kwanzaa-celebrating households. For people who celebrate both holidays, Kwanzaa is an opportunity to incorporate elements of their particular ethnic heritage into holiday observances and celebrations of Christmas.
~Gift Giving: As per Dr. Maulana Karenga, gift giving is mainly for the children. With the gifts each child should receive a book and a heritage symbol.
Gifts are given mainly to children, but must always include a book and a heritage symbol. The book is to emphasize the African value and tradition of learning stressed since ancient Egypt, and the heritage symbol to reaffirm and reinforce the African commitment to tradition and history.
What is Kwanzaa and why was it created?
This is a festival that lasts seven days and celebrates the history, culture, and to reaffirmation of values of the African culture. Initially Kwanzaa was a created for African Americans, but has since been extended to include all peoples of African descent. It begins on December 26th and ends on January 1st. Each day is dedicated to celebrating one of the core seven princples.
What does Kwanzaa mean?
"Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits."
What do the above Seven Principles mean?
1.) Umoja (Unity)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
2.) Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
3.) Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.
4.) Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
5.) Nia (Purpose)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
6.) Kuumba (Creativity)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
7.) Imani (Faith)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Symbols used in the Kwanzaa celebration.
1.) Mazao (The Crops)
These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.
2.) Mkeka (The Mat)
This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.
3.) Kinara (The Candle Holder)
This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people -- continental Africans.
4.) Muhindi (The Corn)
This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.
5.) Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles)
These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.
6.) Kikombe cha Umoja (The Unity Cup)
This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.
7.) Zawadi (The Gifts)
These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children.
Other sites on Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa Paper Games (with additional info)
The following websites were used in my research for this article...
Traditions of the Holiday - An Educational Tour - the series...
- Traditions of the Holiday - An Educational Tour - Part 1 - Musical Overture
- Traditions of the Holiday - An Educational Tour - Part 2 - Winter Solstice
- Traditions of the Holiday - An Educational Tour - Part 3 - Chanukah
- Traditions of the Holiday - An Educational Tour - Part 4 - Kwanzaa
***This "Traditions of the Holiday - An Educational Tour..." series is the original idea of ©PonGoad 2012. All Rights Reserved aka ©LadyGs Creations 2012. All Rights Reserved.
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