Monday, December 26, 2011

Get Into It: Happy Kwanzaa!

Today marks the beginning of Kwanzaa. I used to celebrate this African American holiday with my Godparents as a kid. I loved how different and unique this celebration was. It was a whole new world to me. My Godfather was deeply involved in everything surrounding Kwanzaa. I hadn't even thought about the holiday for years until recently. Kwanzaa is a week long celebration which honors the universal heritage and culture of African Americans. It's a week long celebration that was started to give Black people an alternative to the existing holiday and a way to celebrate our history.

There are seven day of the Kwanzaa celebration. They are celebrated by a unique principle each day. They are:
° Umoja (Unity) - To strive for & to maintain unity in the family, community, national and race.
° Kujichagulia (Self Determination) - To refine ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves, to stand up.
° Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility) - To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.
° Ujamaa (Cooperative economics) - To build and maintain our own businesses and to profit from them together.
° Nia (Purpose) - To make our collective vocation the building and developing our our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
° Kuumba (Creativity) - To do always as much as we can, in the water can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
° Imani (Faith) - To believe with all our heart in all of our people an the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Another Kwanzaa tradition is the kinara which holds seven candles, usually 3 green, 3 red, 1st black. A candle is lit every day to symbolize each principle. Kente cloth is also a notable Kwanzaa celebration? The gifts that are given are usually handmade. That makes them more meaningful to me. Many Kwanzaa celebration include live music with lots of drumming, the African Pledge being read, and a karamu which is a feast. The official greeting of Kwanzaa is "Habari Gani?" this is Swahili for "What's The News?"

I love everything that Kwanzaa stands for. I love anything that uplifts my people. In a world that tends to not treat African Americans in the best way. Kwanzaa does that for me. I believe that it should be celebrated along with Christmas or alone. It's a great gift to give to the younger generation. Whether you know a lot about the holiday or not, it's worth you looking into. So, go ahead and get into it. Celebrate our heritage!


  1. I feel bad to say this but I forgot about Kwanzaa (confession)! I remember learning about it as a child in school but never practicing it at home... I'm going to do some research because I like what you've written about its meaning. Perhaps, after doing my homework, next year I'll introduce it to my family and nephews.

  2. I used to celebrate Kwanzaa as a kid with my Godparents. It's been a long time since I've actively celebrated it. I cannot lie, if not for my boyfriend I would have forgotten about it too. He is very heavy into it. So, that's how I've been reintroduced to Kwanzaa. I think its something really uplifting that more African Americans should embrace. Glad this post was informative to you, MC.