Kwanzaa is a celebration of family, community and culture. It is a week long celebration which begins on December 26th and concludes on January 1st. First celebrated in 1966, Kwanzaa was created to reaffirm and restore African American's rootedness in African culture. Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one.
The focus of this celebration revolves around seven principles, called the Nguzo Saba (in Swahili). Each day is assigned a principle with the first day being Umoja which is Unity...to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race. Day 2 is Kujichagulia or self-determination...to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves. The third day is Ujima or 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. Day four is Ujamaa or cooperative economics...to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together. The fifth day is Nia or purpose...to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. The sixth day is Kuumba or 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. The final day is Imani or faith...to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
There is a specific way that the celebration is to take place, but over time people have personalized them so celebrations can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. Some families have daily ceremonies and others do a big celebration on the final day. There are several symbols that are used in conjunction with these celebrations. The most familiar is the Kinara which holds the Mishumaa Saba (a set of seven candles representing the Nguzo Saba---3 red candles, 1 black candle and 3 green candles). The Kinara sits on the Mkeka (mat) along with the Kikombe cha Umoja which is a unity cup.
I hope that you enjoyed learning a little bit about my culture and Kwanzaa. For more information visit: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org
Harambee! Harambee! Harambee!!