If you’re looking for an alternative to Christmas (which is more about consumerism than the birth of Christ!) why not celebrate Kwanzaa with us this year?
What is Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa is originally an African-American concept which celebrates 7 Core Principles (Nguzo Saba), represented by a different candle each day. It begins on the 26th of December, and ends of the 1st of January, culminating in a feast and an exchange of gifts. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa honors a different Principle; these Principles are key to building strong, productive African families and communities.
Kwanzaa is based on year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years. The name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits of the harvest.” The Founder of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana “Ron” Karenga chose a phrase from Swahili because the language is used by various peoples throughout Africa.
Items Used During Kwanzaa:
Action: The symbols of Kwanzaa are arranged on the mkeka, which may be made of straw or African cloth. It symbolizes the foundation upon which communities are built.
Meaning: the candleholder, which holds seven candles
Action: It symbolizes stalks of corn that branch off to form new stalks, much as the human family is created.
Meaning: the seven candles that represent the seven principles
Action: A different candle is lit each day. Three candles on the left are green; three on the right are red; and the middle candle is black.
kikombe cha umoja
Meaning: the unity cup
Action: Celebrants drink from a wooden cup in honor of their African ancestors. Before drinking, each person says “harambee,” or “let’s pull together.”
Meaning: fruits, nuts, and vegetables
Action: These remind celebrants of the harvest fruits that nourished the people of Africa.
vibunzi (plural, muhindi)
Meaning: ear of corn
Action: Traditionally, one ear of corn is placed on the mkeka for each child present.
Action: Traditionally, educational and cultural gifts are given on January 1, the last day of Kwanzaa.
The Kwanzaa flag consists of three blocks, one in each of these colors. Green is for the fertile land of Africa; black is for the color of the people; and red is the for the blood that is shed in the struggle for freedom.
Poster depicting the seven Symbols of Kwanzaa:
The Seven Symbols of Kwanzaa and What They Mean:
Day 1: Umoja (oo-MOH-ja)
Action: building a commUNITY that holds together
Day 2: Kujichagulia (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-yah)
Action: speaking for yourself and making choices that benefit the commUNITY
Day 3: Ujima (oo-JEE-mah)
Meaning: Collective Work and Responsibility
Action: helping others within the commUNITY
Day 4: Ujamaa (oo-JAH-ma)
Meaning: Cooperative Economics
Action: supporting businesses that care about the commUNITY
Day 5: Nia (nee-AH)
Meaning: a Sense of Purpose
Action: setting goals that benefit the commUNITY
Day 6: Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah)
Action: making the commUNITY better and more beautiful
Day 7: Imani (ee-MAH-nee)
Action: believing that a better world can be created for communities now and in the future
The colors of Kwanzaa are red, black and green. The Kwanzaa flag consists of three blocks, one in each of these colors. Three of the seven candles are red, three are green and one is black.
During the celebrations, candles are lit and libations are poured from a wooden cup. A libation is the name given to a ritual pouring of water or white rum as an offering to our ancestors.
A Kwanzaa ceremony often includes performances of music and drumming, a reflection on the Pan-African colors of red, green and black and a discussion of some aspect of African history. Women often wear brightly colored traditional clothing. Some cultural organizations hold special exhibitions of African influenced art and market stalls during the period of the celebrations.
During Kwanzaa, celebrants greet each other with “Habari gani,” or “What’s the news?” The 7 Principles of Kwanzaa form the answers.
Celebrate Kwanzaa’s 50th Birthday With Us!
Kwanzaa is in its 50th year, and various organisations are putting on events to celebrate – I have stalls at two of them, where you can get two copies of my Self-help novel ‘Journey of a Sister’ for £9.99 – buy one get one FREE! Operate the 7th Principle of Kwanzaa and give your free one to a friend on January 1st! (I’m giving away the first-fruits of the 1,000 books I had printed!)
(Click on the flyers to be taken to the organisations websites)
If you are unable to attend any of these events you can still take advantage of my special Kwanzaa Offer, and get two books for the price of one!
Start the Journey from Year One FREE! (← click to open PDF)
Get a signed copy of ‘Journey of a Sister’ FREE when you join me on The 30 Day Mind Detox (Starts 2nd January 2017)
In your service,
Award-winning Visual & Spoken Word Artist| International Author| Events Host| Workshop Facilitator