How to celebrate Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa, a holiday (or Holy Day) based upon the African tradition of celebrating the harvesting of the first fruits, was created and introduced for Black People in the United States by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966.
Kwanzaa is the ingathering of the people, a special reverence for the creator and creation, a commemoration of the past, a recommitment to our highest ideals, and a celebration of all that is good. It is a time of reflecting, reassessing, recommitting, rewarding, and rejoicing in an atmosphere of peace, love and unity. Kwanzaa is a cultural and political expression to reaffirm our African Heritage and, organize our people for the struggle of total Black Liberation.
Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days: December 26th through January 1st. The seven days are based upon the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles), with each day being symbolic of one of the principles.
· December 26th - Umoja (Unity)
· December 27th - Kujichagulia (Self-Determination )
· December 28th - Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility)
· December 29th - Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
· December 30th - Nia (Purpose)
· December 31st - Kuumba (Creativity)
· January 1st - Imani (Faith)
THERE ARE SEVEN SYMBOLS OF KWANZAA:
· Mkeka (Straw Mat) - tradition and history; the foundation on which all else rests
· Kinara (CandleHolder) - original stalk from which we come; our African ancestors
· Mishumaa Saba (7 Candles) - Nguzo Saba; The Seven Principles firmly rooted in the traditions of our ancestors
· Muhindi (ears of corn) - represents children and all the hopes and challenges attached to them.
· Kikombe (Unity Cup)
· Mazao (Crops) - the collective fruits of our labor
· Zawadi (Gifts) - seeds sown by the children and rewards for our achievements
WHAT TO DO AND WHEN TO DO IT:
· December 19th - gather and arrange Kwanzaa symbols. Any other decorations (African carvings, straw baskets) should be in a red, black and green color scheme, symbolizing the bendera ya taifa (Flag of the Black Nation):
· Red - the liberation struggle of our people
· Black - the collective color of all Black people
· Green - land, life and our future (we build through struggle).
Arrange the symbols on a low table as follows:
1. Spread the Mkeka
2. Place the Kinara in the center of the Mkeka
3. Place the Muhindi on either side of the Kinara, one ear of corn for each child
4. Creatively place the Zawadi, Kikombe, and a basket of Mazao on the Mkeka
5. Place 1 Black Mishumaa in the center of the Kinara, with 3 Green on the right, and 3 Red on the left.
· DECEMBER 26TH – JANUARY 1ST
Greeting – greet each other in Kiswahili asking “Habari Gani?” (What’s the news or what’s happening?) Answer with the principle for that day. For example, on December 26th, respond with “Umoja.”
Libation – (Ancestral Communion) an elder leader should pour Libation, using water or juice, from the Kikombe into a bowl with leafy green vegetables, to honor our ancestors.
Lighting Ceremony – light one Mishumaa each day for the principle of that day, beginning with the black candle, which represents the first principle Umoja. Each day thereafter, alternately light the red and then the green candles. After each lighting, discuss the principle of the day. The ceremony should be held at a time when all family members, especially children, can participate.
Karamu (The Feast) - the Karamu is held on the night of December 31st, and should be a festive occasion. When possible, observe traditional African practices, e.g., African music, dance and storytelling, sitting on the floor or on pillows, and eating with the hands (no utensils). Libation, Candlelighting and Harambee are conducted at the Karamu.
Zawadi - (They should not be mandatory, expensive or excessive). It is suggested that Zawadi be given to the children in one or two ways:
1. One gift each day, reinforcing the principle of that day.
2. One or more gifts on January 1st, the last day of Kwanzaa.
Personally made gifts are strongly encouraged over commercial purchases. Regardless of what else is given, there are two strongly suggested items: a book and heritage symbol. These two items reinforce our commitment to education and the richness of our cultural heritage.
The essence of Kwanzaa is a true appreciation of ourselves as Black People, collectively coming together to reflect on and enjoy the infinite beauty of being in the same family, group or organization, sharing the same values, interests and aspirations, engaging in and committing to the same struggle.
First ever documentary about Kwanzaa
Los Angeles, CA (BlackNews.com) -- The Black Candle is the first ever documentary about the African-American cultural holiday Kwanzaa featuring narration by Dr. Maya Angelou as well as some of her original poems. Writer-producer-director M.K. Asante, Jr. takes viewers across the United States, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean to look at the evolution of Kwanzaa and why 22 million celebrants embrace the holiday annually from December 26th – January 1st.
The Black Candle also explores the seven principles of Kwanzaa (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith) and how these principles can positively impact everyday life.
Director M.K. Asante, Jr. is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and professor of creative writing and film at Morgan State University. Described by the Los Angeles Times as one of “America’s best storytellers,” Asante wrote and produced the film 500 Years Later; winner of five international awards including the Breaking the Chains award from UNESCO. He is also author of the books "Like Water Running Off My Back", "Beautiful And Ugly Too", and "It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop".