26 December 2013 – 01 January 2014
Heri za Kwanzaa
Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani
Habari gani (What’s the good news)?
Dr. Maulana Karenga
Photo by Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger
Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, who was a leading theorist of The Black Movement in the 1960s. His writing credits are quite extensive and have appeared in many journals and anthologies. Kwanzaa’s birth stems from a cultural idea and an expression of the U.S. organization which Dr. Karenga headed. This new way of exploring self has blossomed into the only internationally celebrated, native, non-religious, non-heroic, non-political African-American holiday.
The name Kwanzaa is a Kiswahili word for “the first fruits of the harvest”. Kiswahili was chosen because it is a non-tribal African language which encompasses a large portion of the African continent. As an added benefit, its pronunciation is rather easy. Vowels are pronounced as they would be in Spanish, and consonants, with few exceptions, as they are in English. For example: A=ah as in father; E=a as in day; I=ee as in free;O=oo as in too. One last note, the accent or stress is almost always on the next to last syllable.
This holiday is observed from 26 December through 1 January. Its focus is to pay tribute to the rich cultural roots of People of the African Diaspora. Though first inspired by African- Americans, many of African descent celebrate this occasion today. Its reach has grown to include all whose roots are in the Motherland. Its concept is neither religious nor political but is rooted strongly in a cultural awareness. This is not a substitute for Christmas; however, gifts may be exchanged with the principles of Nguzo Saba always in mind. Gifts are given to reinforce personal growth and achievement, which benefits the collective community.
The principles, Nguzo Saba, are:
Umoja (unity) U-MO-JA
Kujicahgulia (self determination) KU-JI-CHA-GU-LIA
Ujima (collective work and responsibility) U-JI-MA
Ujamaa (cooperative economics) U-JA-MA
Nia (purpose) NIA
Kuumba (creativity) KU-UM-BA
Imani (faith) I-MANI
We hope that you will pass someone this year and wish them a Harambee Kwanzaa. May the principles guide you year round.
The Symbols of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols and two supplemental ones. Each represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and contributive to community building and reinforcement.
These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.
This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.
(The Candle Holder)
This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people — continental Africans.
This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.
(The Seven Candles)
These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.
Kikombe cha Umoja
(The Unity Cup)
This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible..
These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children. The two supplemental symbols are:
The colors of the Kwanzaa flag are the colors of the Organization Us, black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. It is based on the colors given by the Hon. Marcus Garvey as national colors for African people throughout the world.
Some Sample Orders of Ceremony
Umoja – Unity
The principle of Umoja (unity) speaks to our need to develop and sustain a sense of oneness, righteous and rightful togetherness in the small and large circles and significant relations of our lives, from family and friendship, to community and the cosmos. It urges us to practice a principled and peaceful togetherness rooted in mutual respect, justice, care and concern, security of person, and equitably shared goods. And it calls on us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed, suffering and struggling peoples of the world in the cooperative achievement of these goods.
Kujichagulia – Self-Determination
The principle of Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) instructs us to assert ourselves in self-defining and dignity-affirming ways in the world, as well as to create the miracles, monuments and meaningful relationships and achievements we want in our lives. And it reaffirms our right and responsibility to live liberating and liberated lives, to value and dialog constantly with our own culture, to retrieve and bring forth the best of what it means to be African and human, and to speak this unique and equally valid and valuable truth to the world. And it upholds the right of all peoples in the world to demand and do likewise.
Ujima – Collective Work & Responsibility
The principle of Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) teaches us that we must build the good and sustainable communities, societies and world we all want, and that we deserve to live in and leave to those after us. As Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune taught us, that “We must remake the world. The task is nothing less than that.” This means engaging and solving the major problems of the world, including poverty, famine and food insecurity, housing, environmental degradation, economic security, HIV/AIDS and other health issues, education, racism, sexism, corporate plunder, war, occupation, crime and the criminal injustice system.
Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics
Ujamaa reaffirms the ethics of the harvest, shared work and shared wealth. Thus, it is opposed to inequitable distribution of wealth, as well as resource monopoly and plunder by the rich and powerful. And it teaches us to privilege the poor and vulnerable and to uphold the right of all peoples to live lives of freedom, dignity, well-being and ongoing development. Ujamaa also urges us to give rightful recognition and support to the small farmers and farm workers of the world for the vital role they play in feeding and sustaining people and the planet, especially in the context of the globalization of agriculture and its destructive effects on the lives and lands of the people.
Nia – Purpose
The principle of Nia (Purpose) teaches us to embrace and respond creatively to the collective vocation of restoring to our people the position and possibilities of great achievements through doing good in the world. For the sacred teaching of our ancestors in the Husia say that “the wise are known by their wisdom, and the great are k nown by their good deeds.” And in the Odu Ifa, they tell us that we “humans are divinely chosen to bring good in the world,” and this is the fundamental mission and meaning in human life.
Kuumba – Creativity
The principle of Kuumba (Creativity) teaches us the moral obligation “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.” Thus, we must practice serudj ta, constantly repair and remake the world, a Maatian concept with ethical and aesthetic, as well as natural and social implications, and which expansively means to repair the damaged, raise up the ruined, replenish the depleted, rejoin the severed, strengthen the weakened, set right the wrong, and make flourish the fragile and undeveloped.
Imani – Faith
Finally, the principle of Imani (Faith) teaches and urges us to hold fast to the faith of our ancestors. It reassures us that through cooperative work and struggle, the famine and food insecurity in Somalia, the Horn of Africa, and the rest of the world, can be ended; that the human-caused catastrophe of Katrina will not occur again; that the fields and forests of Haiti will blossom, grow abundant grain and fruit again; and that every other plundered, polluted and depleted place will do likewise. And it is a faith that assures us we can truly transform ourselves and the world, and ensure clean air, pure water, safe and nutritious food for everyone, and a free, just, secure, dignity affirming and flourishing life and future for all the world.
The Day of Meditation
The last day of Kwanzaa is the first day of the new year, 1 January. Historically, this has been for African people a time of sober assessment of things done and things to do, of self-reflection and reflection on the life and future of the people, and of recommitment to their highest cultural values in a special way. Following in this tradition, it is for us, then, a time to ask and answer soberly and humbly the three Kawaida questions:
Who am I?
Am I really who I say I am?
Am I all I ought to be?
And it is, of necessity, a time to recommit ourselves to our highest ideals, in a word, to the best of what it means to be both African and human in the fullest sense. Read more here http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/meditation.shtml
The Odu Ifa Meditation Let us not engage the world hurriedly.
Let us not grasp at the rope of wealth impatiently.
That which should be treated with mature judgment,
let us not deal with in a state of anger.
When we arrive at a cool place,
let us rest fully;
Let us give continuous attention to the future;
and let us give deep consideration to the consequences of things.
And this because of our (eventual) passing.
K’a má fi kánjú j’aiyé.
K’a má fi wàrà-wàrà n’okùn orò
Ohun à bâ if s’àgbà,
K’a má if se’binu.
Bi a bá de’bi t’o tútù,
K’a wò’wajú ojo lo titi;
K’a tun bò wá r’èhìn oràn wo;
Nitori àti sùn ara eni ni.
TAMSHI LA TAMBIKO
(The Libation Statement)
Our fathers and mothers came here, lived, loved, struggled and built here.
For our people everywhere then:
For Garvey, Muhammad, Malcolm, and King; Harriet, Fannie Lou, Sojourner, Bethune, and Nat Turner and all the others who dared to define, defend, and develop our interests as a people;
For our children and the fuller and freer lives they will live because we struggled;
For Kawaida and the Nguzo Saba, the new system of views and values which gives identity, purpose, and direction to our lives;
For the new world we struggle to build;
And for the continuing struggle through which we will inevitably rescue and reconstruct our history and humanity in our own image and according to our own needs.
– Dr. Maulana Karenga
Sample KWANZAA CEREMONY OVERVIEW
WELCOME REMARKS/ KWANZAA
NGUZO SABA PRESENTATION AND LIGHTING OF THE KINARA
UJIMA (Collective Work and Responsibility)
UJAMAA (Cooperative Economics)
(A Celebration With Food Usually Follows)
Remembering the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa
First fruits is what the name Kwanzaa means
It’s celebrated everywhere by kings and queens
Based on seven principles that still exist
If you check out this rhyme, you’ll get the gist
Umoja, a Swahili name for unity
Is the goal we strive for across this country
Kujichagulia means self-determination
We define ourselves, a strong creation.
Ujima or collective work and responsibility
Is how we build and maintain our own community
For if my people have a problem, then so do I
So let’s work through it together with our heads held high.
Ujamaa meaning cooperative economics is nothing new
We support and run our own stores and other businesses, too.
Nia is purpose, us developing our potential
As we build our community strong to the nth exponential;
Kuumba is the creative force which lies within our call
As we leave our community much better for all;
As a people, let’s move forward by extending our hand
For Imani is the faith to believe that we can;
These seven principles help to make our nation strong
If you live to these ideals, you can’t go wrong
But you must first determine your own mentality
And believe in yourself as you want you to be
And no matter how far, work hard to reach your goal
As we stand, as a people, heads up, fearless and bold.