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Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is a pan-African holiday that is celebrated annually from December 26th- January 1st. The term is coined from the phrase, ‘matunda ya Kwanza’, meaning ‘first fruits’ in Swahili. traditionally celebrated in the US, Kwanzaa is a holiday celebrating African American social traditions.
The connection to the home continent of Africa, Dr. Karenga developed this holiday in order to have African Americans who have lost their connection to the motherland.
The celebration surrounds the special candle holder titled a kinara. The Kinara holds seven candles, each celebrating a day in Kwanzaa, with its own meaning. These are the seven principles of Kwanzaa. These are:
- Umoja: Unity – Unity of the family, community, nation and race
- Kujichagulia: Self-Determination – Being responsible for your own conduct and behaviour
- Ujima: Collective work and responsibility – Working to Help each other and in the community
- Ujamaa: Cooperative economics – Working to build shops and businesses
- Nia: Purpose – Remembering and restoring African and African American cultures, customs and history
- Kuumba: Creativity – Using creating and your imagination to make communities better
- Imani: Faith – Believing in people, families, leaders, teachers and the righteousness of the African American struggle
The beautiful piece of Kwanzaa is that it is a cultural holiday, therefore one can celebrate this holiday while still having their beliefs. Anyone can celebrate Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is more so a celebration of traditional and principle. A reflection on the past, an appreciation of the present and a glance into the future.
Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa those that celebrate tends to partake in the principle assigned to that day. This is done through a myriad of means, depending on how you celebrate the holiday. The most important piece of Kwanzaa is the expression of these principles, understanding the value of culture and family.
It is a powerful holiday designed to channel the lost roots of African American tradition and to harvest the firsts fruits of a new year. Karenga is quoted in saying this holiday is a ” a communitarian African philosophy”.
The importance of this holiday comes from the principles, and it is imperative that we celebrate the holiday, its roots, and its cultural connections for our youth. This is an empowering holiday that surmises growth, unity, prosperity, tradition, and family. It is a great way to empower the younger generations and teach them valuable principles that can carry them into success in a plethora of spaces
Umoja will teach them the importance of unity. Unity as a collective is a conscious conversation in our communities that can be taught at home through Kwanzaa. Understanding the importance of unity and how it empowers the family unit is paramount to strengthening the youth’s purpose in the real world. this will propel them to teach and express this principle to those in their communities, sharing wealth and knowledge to grow together with each other.
Kujichagulia will teach the values of self-responsibility. Understanding that actions are their own to deal with and accept this reality. Being self-aware of their own behaviors and learning to take that responsibility in its whole. this is a character trait that is necessary for human growth and prosperity and will deliver real value in one’s spirit. This is taken with the good and the bad. Self-responsibility is a conduit for all things in the human body. We are responsible for everything we do and that can propel our youth to heights beyond or reach.
Ujima teaches working together. Understanding that when we work as a collective in our community there is nothing we can’t accomplish. This is a valuable skill teaching the youth to rely on others to work collectively towards a common goal. Teamwork makes the dream work and Ujima delivers that message like no other. The spiritual desire to aid another is infectious and delivers the message that we all rise together equally when we work together.
Ujamaa teaches proper financial stability in groups. delivering the knowledge to people on how to collectively build business is a valuable practice that is imperative for the youth. Giving the youth these lessons will catapult them to greater pastures in business and economics, spurning them to learn how to build empires and give back to their communities.
Nia teaches Purpose. The understanding of African and African American cultures, customs, and histories is necessary to pass on. For people who have been severed from our past, we must continue to learn and practice the traditions we do know. It is important to remember our history did not start with slavery, and we must do as much as we can to teach the youth this truth. There is nothing more important than restoring and understanding history and tradition and passing this piece off will empower the youth for generations. The purpose is paramount to growth, and prosperity.
Kuumba introduces Creativity. As a people, we are creative. As of recent, our creativity is often bore through pain and struggle. However, that wasn’t always the case and isn’t always the case now. Practicing Kuumba allows the youth to express their creativity in positive ways, allowing them to discover what they can contribute to their greater communities. This valuable skill is massive for our youth. In an industrial and sometimes toxic world, creativity is always a channel for freedom and expression that grants emotions that can fuel generations.
Imani teaches Faith. the ability to believe is a principle long been distorted and devalued through social norms. Believing in the righteousness of the African American struggle is paramount. Understanding the struggle of the African who no history and the American with now freedom is important in everyday life. we must pass this principle on to our youth to allow them to believe in themselves and the powers around them. There will be things out of their control. Faith in our families, faith in our communities, faith in each other. We must always practice and appreciate faith.
Practicing Kwanzaa is a cultural experience that is important to pass on to the youth. The ability to instill powerful values of African American culture and African tradition in order to propel the next generation into prosperity, unity, and faith is paramount for the growth of the African American people.
How do you celebrate Kwanzaa?