Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kwanzaa Simplified

      The  word Kwanzaa is derived from an African celebration and means first fruits.  First fruits celebrations were held historically all over Africa as a celebration of unity, good life  and community.
 Kwanzaa was created by Dr Maulana Karenga in 1966 as an African American, Pan - African Holiday that celebrates family, culture and community.
     The celebration is held over 7 days -  Dec 26 - Jan.1, and has 7 principles.  Each principle has a very specific meaning that is meant to unify bonds, motivate, uplift and inspire people of African decent through out the diaspora . It solidifies core values and belief systems that introduce and reinforce African values thru the seven principles called The Nguzo Saba.

      On each day of Kwanzaa, you greet each other with "Habari Gani ?" which means " Whats the news?" The expected response is the principle of the day.

Nguzo Saba - Seven Principles

Principle 1

Umoja - Unity

 December 26th   -
To strive for and maintain unity in the community, nation and race.

Principle 2

Kujichagulia - Self Determination

December 27th -
To define ourselves, name ourselves. create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Principle 3

Ujima - Collective Work and Responsibility

December 28th -
To build and maintain our community together and our brothers and sisters problems our problems and solve them together.

Principle 4

Ujamaa - Cooperative economics

December 29th -
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Principle 5

Nia - Purpose

December 30th -
To make our collective vocation the building and development of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness

Principle 6

Kuumba - Creativity

December 31
To do always as much as we can , in the way that we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Principle 7

Imani - Faith

January 1
To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers and our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Kwanzaa Symbols

       A Kinara  or candle holder is used to hold 7 candles ( called Mishumaa Saba).  Each candle  represents one of the 7 principles.  One black candle is placed in the middle, and 3 red on the left and 3 green on the right.  The first candle lit is the black candle in the middle and  then each night the  candles are lit from the middle then left ( red)  to right (green)  Each night  you add another candle to the lighting as the principle and its meaning is read.

     Under the kinara a mat or Mkeka is used. The mkeka symbolizes foundation where all things are laid.  Corn on the cob or Muhindi  is placed to symbolize the children .If there is 1 child in the home 1 muhindi is placed, if there  are 2 children  you place  2 muhindi.
There is also a unity cup called the Makeka cha Umoja that everyone sips from in a display of Unity. It is also used to pour libations to the ancestors to give thanks for them paving the way.

     A Bandera is a Red black and green flag  that symbolizes African Liberation.
Red  the blood shed by those who fought for liberation
Black - the color of African skin
Green - for the earth, nature and land

Mazao are the crops and symbols that are symbolic of the harvest celebrations and of the productivity of working together.

On day 6  Kuumba,  there is a celebration or a Karamu where friends and family come together for a festivity of food, music, song and dance  There is an exchange of gifts.. Zawadi. These Zawadi are usually creative home made gifts. Families and friends unite and give thanks with 7 Harambees  Pronounced( Ha- ram - Bay).  Harambee  means Pull together. Hands are joined in a circle and  thrown up in unison as exclamations of Harambee are said 7 times A  long stretched out Harambeeeeee is said on the 7th one.

The principles of Kwanzaa are ones that should not just be used during the Kwanzaa season but everyday.  It can be such a great  resource to teach children values growing up.
Here is great Cd with Kwanzaa songs  entitled
Kwanzaa for Young People (and Everyone Else)


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