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Celebrating the Nguzo Saba 365

Kinara with the principles in place of candlesticks

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

Last December 2015 was the first time my household celebrated Kwanzaa.  It was a week where my boyfriend (yes, still boyfriend status) and I spent some time each day to discuss the Nguzo Saba (7 principles), have we upheld them, and what we will do to uphold them. Read the rest of this entry

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).

Seven Days of Kwanzaa

Seven Days of Kwanzaa

Harambee marafiki! That means “Come together friends” and celebrate! I’m so excited because this year, me and my boyfriend will celebrate Kwanzaa for the first time.  I’ve already set up my kinara (the candle holder) and the Mishumaa Saba (candles) that represent the Nguzo Saba, or Seven Principles.  There’s still a few things that I’m missing but such as the mat, the corn, the Unity cup, etc.

kwanzaa

My Kinara

What is Kwanzaa and what does it all mean?

December 26th marks the beginning of Kwanzaa, a celebration of family, community and culture.  Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, currently a professor of Africana Studies at Cal State Long Beach (CA), in 1966 as a Pan-African and Black American holiday.  You can read more about the celebration on Dr. Karenga’s website.

It doesn’t necessarily replace Christmas, so it’s not uncommon for families who celebrate Kwanzaa to include it as a part of their usual holiday season.  However, this year we will use it in place of Christmas. So I’ve been taking the time to learn more about the Nguzo Saba and ways to celebrate each day.

Celebrate with us!

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