Alright, let us dig into the celebration of the holiday Kwanzaa!!
Personally, this issue is extremely important to me because I believe there should be a shift in the young and modern Black/African Americans and Pan-Africans to elevate the Kwanzaa holiday. Kwanzaa should definitely be kept and taught to the upcoming generations of African Americans and Pan-Africans, But I think there are a few Millennials that need to put some more respect on the Kwanzaa holiday.
Kwanzaa which means “First Fruit” in Swahili is an African American and Pan-African holiday created by then Activist Maulana Karenga, who’s currently a professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at California State University. Kwanzaa is a week-long and it’s observed between December 26 and January 1st, It’s an annual celebration of family, community, and culture. Dr. Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 as a response to the 1965 Watts Rebellion and it’s based on African harvest festival traditions and the Swahili language. His goal was to reaffirm African American roots in African Culture; to serve as a communal celebration of African people to reaffirm and reinforce the bonds between them and to instill a sense of pride, identity, purpose, and direction. The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red, and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle.
“We stress culture because it gives identity, purpose and direction. It tells us who we are, what we must do, and how we can do it.“Mualana Karenga (1967)
How’s Kwanzaa Celebrated?
Throughout the seven days of Kwanzaa, December 26 – January 1st. You and your family would gather to light the indicated candle on the given day. Each candle represents a principle; you and your family would reflect on what the principles mean to you, read a passage or poem that connects you to the principle, and of course, give gifts. 😁
☆ The black candle is lit first on the first day of the celebration. The remaining candles are lit afterward from left to right on the following days. This procedure is to indicate that the people come first, then the struggle, and then the hope that comes from the struggle.
Kwanzaa celebration includes the seven symbols below:
- The Crops (Mazao in Swahili) – Which are fruits and vegetables; they’re the symbol of African harvest celebrations and the rewards of productive and collective labor.
- The Mat (Mkeka in Swa hili) – Usually a straw or woven mat; It’s a symbol of African tradition and history, therefore the foundation on which we build.
- The Candle Holder (Kinara in Swahili) – This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people — continental Africans.
- The Corn (Muhindi in Swahili) – This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.
- The Unity Cup (Kikombe cha Umoja in Swahili) – This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.
- The Seven Candles (Mishumaa Saba in Swahili) – These are symbolic of the Seven Principles, (Nguzo Saba in Swahili) 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.
- The Gifts (Zawadi in Swahili) – These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children.
Kwanzaa celebration includes the seven principles which African Americans should live by below:
- The black candle represents the first principle Umoja (unity) and is placed in the center of the Kinara.
- The red candle represent the principles of Kujichagulia (self-determination) and its placed to the left of the black candle.
- The red candle represent the principles of Ujamaa (cooperative economics) and its placed to the left of the black candle.
- The red candle represent the principles of Kuumba (creativity) and its placed to the left of the black candle.
- The green candle represent the principles of Ujima (collective work and responsibility) and its placed to the right of the black candle.
- The green candle represent the principles of Nia (purpose) and its placed to the right of the black candle.
- The green candle represent the principles of Imani (faith) and its placed to the right of the black candle.
Why is Kwanzaa so damn important to Diamond?
To be black in America is a relatable story not only told generation after generation but it’s also felt generation after generation. Sometimes I can’t understand how as black people we go through the same strife in this country but towards each other, it’s like we don’t know one another. Yeah, personally we don’t know each other but we have the same history, the same wounds from living in this country and for some reason, we still can’t manage to see each other. To be black in America is far from easy; trying to define ourselves and be proud of our “Ghetto” culture while surviving immense amounts of racism on the daily, whether it’s directly, indirectly, or systemically is never easy.
I understand the importance and the purpose of Kwanzaa and I truly believe as black millennials; which we’re the first black generation that has real access to information, we’re grown adults, the next in line to run the country, and the role models for the next generation. As young Black Americans, we really need to step up and have something culturally sound that connects us and can also be continually passed down to further generations. Now that’s legacy!
The children really are our future. Look at us all… growing, glowing, and learning. What a shame if we don’t take these opportunities to learn and grow with our community and for our community. ❤️🖤💚
“This is our duty: To know our past and honor it; to engage our present and improve it; and to imagine a whole new future and forge it in the most ethical, effective and expansive ways.”Dr. Mualana Karenga
Let’s not only celebrate Kwanzaa let’s elevate the holiday for next year and the years to come! It’s truly a beautiful way to end the year! ❤️🖤💚
Let me know if you’re down for the cause?!