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Day 5: Nia Means Purpose

Day 5: Nia Means Purpose

Habari Gani? Nia!

Work with purpose. Our purpose is to build-up our community and restore our people to our traditional greatness.  In short, Nia is not just another principle about being uplifting and working together.  But, it’s a principle focused on rehabilitating our community.

These last few years headlines and social media were filled with the names of our young men and women.  Not every headline was negative but, it was clear that our community needs to be redeveloped.  And just like with charity, “purpose” or Nia begins at home.  Yesterday, Kujichagulia Day, we focused on being self-determined and uplifting ourselves and our community.  If we are to rebuild our community, then it makes sense to start with the smallest possible one: the family.

If we work on restoring our families to their original greatness, then we can move on to restoring our communities and eventually our nation.  So, on the fifth night, we light the first green candle.  Green represents the hope we have for the future.  We must honor the past struggles (red) but also look to our future (green).

Bottom line is: We were are great. So why not work together to continue to be great.  Move with a purpose.


Nia/Purpose Day

The focus on Nia day should be rebuilding our community. Therefore, the focus of the night should center on rebuilding, or strengthening the family and the individual.  Don’t just focus on how you can strengthen your household, but how you and your family can serve your community.  Think about ways you can elevate others in your community.  Here are some activities for Nia Day:

  • Light the first GREEN candle and ask: Habari Gani? Nia!
  • Pour a drink in the Unity cup in honor of the loved ones we have lost.
  • Because Nia is about hope for the future, this is a good time to recognize our past to help guide us in the future. For example, what are some lessons your grandmother, or even a community member, taught you? How can you apply that to the present and future to rebuild the community? Remember, it’s not always about building housing and playgrounds, so give it some thought.
  • If you are celebrating with children, have them draw a picture of their family and friends.  Ask them to write down one positive thing about each person.  Make sure they include themselves!
  • Talk about how YOU plan to incorporate Nia principle into your coming year.  If it helps, write it down in a safe place like a journal. Of all the New Year resolutions to make, this may be the easiest, yet most beneficial one!
  • Enjoy the Karamu (Feast)!

Umoja means Unity

“U-N-I-T-Y that’s for a unity / U-N-I-T-Y love a black (wo)man from infinity to infinity” – Queen Latifah, UNITY

Habari Gani? Umoja!

The first principle in Kwanzaa is Umoja, which means unity.  The Umoja candle is BLACK to represent the people.  It is first because it all begins with us.  As the African proverb says, “The ruin of a nation begins at home.”  So, we light the black candle first to acknowledge that the strength of our community, of ourselves, begins and ends with the people within. To be strong, we have to be unified. We have to stand as one. #Harambee

During this time, we recognize the importance of unity in all aspects of our lives. Unity means more than standing in solidarity with this cause or that cause, although that’s a start. It means coming together as a family and a community.

Kinara with Umoja candle and description

Umoja, the Swahili word for Unity

Umoja/Unity Day

Use this day to show unity with your family, friends, and your community as a whole.  Here are some things you can do:

  • Light the black Mishumaa (candle)
  • Pour a drink (non-alcoholic if you have to) in the Kikombe cha Umoja, or the Unity cup. Do this in honor of your family members and African/African-American leaders and heroes who are no longer here.
  • If you are celebrating with your family, this is a good time to tell stories of the family history.  If you are with friends, share a favorite family story. Get to know each other. Knowing our neighbors brings us closer together.
  • If you are a married couple, talk about your history together. Focus on the positive and those things that bring you happiness.
  • Sing, play games and celebrate!
  • Make a commitment to be more unified in the coming year. Remember, it starts with us.
  • Finally, enjoy your Karamu (feast).
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