|KWANZAA YENU IWE NA HERI!|
Kwanzaa is a spiritual, festive and joyous celebration of the oneness and goodness of life, which claims no ties with any religion. It has definite principles, practices and symbols which are geared to the social and spiritual needs of African-Americans. The reinforcing gestures are designed to strengthen our collective self-concept as a people, honor our past, critically evaluate our present and commit ourselves to a fuller, more productive future.
Kwanzaa, which means "first fruits of the harvest" in the African language Kiswahili, has gained tremendous acceptance. Since its founding in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa has come to be observed by more than 28 million people worldwide. Celebrated from December 26th to January 1st, it is based on Nguzo Saba (seven guiding principles), one for each day of the observance:
Ritual Objects & Symbols
Mkeka -- straw table mat, on which all other objects are placed
Mazao -- crops, symbols of the fruits of collective labor
Muhindi -- one ear of corn for each child, symbolizing fertility
Kikombe cha umoja -- the unity cup, used to perform the libation ritual
Zawadi -- gifts, traditional items that encourage success
Kinara -- candleholder, a symbol of ancestry
Mishumaa saba -- seven candles, one for each of the seven Kwanzaa principles.
Each night, the family gathers to light the candles of the kinara, adding one candle for each day of the holiday. A traditional feast is held on the night of December 31. Gifts are usually opened on the last day of Kwanzaa, January 1. Gifts are considered part of the "kuumba," or creativity, principle and are encouraged. Traditional presents are books and heritage symbols. The Traditional Greeting is "Habari gani?", to which one replies with the Kwanzaa principle of the day.
Stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, "I am We," or "I am because We are.
Requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.
(OO-GEE-MAH) COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY
Reminds us of our obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.
(OO-JAH-MAH) COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS
Emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.
Encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.
Makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.
Focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.