Many Black children are excited about celebrating Christmas. For some children, it is about their religion and the birth of Christ, for some of the children it is about the gifts…expressions of love at the end of the year with the hopes of starting the New Year feeling fortunate.
In my family it was more the former but we had a good combination of both philosophies and I had the type of mother that did not give some old, White dude credit for the blessings under the tree. I was in college the first time I went to a Kwanzaa celebration. The name sounded strange to me at first, but the celebration was empowering.
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a professor of African studies at California State University Long Beach. The holiday was created as a week-long celebration of African culture for African American descendants. The annual celebration is December 26 through January 1.
“The celebration of Kwanzaa is about embracing ethical principles and values, so the goodness of the world can be shared and enjoyed by us and everyone, said Karenga.”
The Missouri City Kwanzaa Ujima collective will host its 3rd annual Kwanzaa celebration December 26 @ 7pm at the City Hall Complex. Mshinda Nyofu is the event organizer who enthusiastically shares the holiday with the community.
“Kwanzaa is a time when millions of people of African descent audaciously celebrate family, community, and culture,” Nyofu said. “The event is free, family friendly, and open to the public.”
Kwanzaa is a cultural celebration, not a religious one, so it is acknowledged by millions of people nationwide of varying backgrounds. The tradition is a celebration of values of cooperation and responsibility that may be most beneficial to Black culture in America. The more I learned, the more I realized that Kwanzaa has a lot to teach us about life, and each other.
A different principle is celebrated on each of seven nights by lighting candles on a holder called a kinara. There are three red candles, three green and a black candle at the center. The black candle is lit on the first night of the celebration and is used to light the other six candles alternating daily from red to green.
One of the attributes I found most interesting about Kwanzaa is that the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles) teaches value orientations that can be used by communities year-round.
The word Kwanzaa originates from the Swahili phase ‘matunda ya kwanza’ meaning, “first fruits” of the harvest.
The values of Kwanzaa are based on the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles). The first principle is Umoja, or Unity, which relates to family, community, nation, and race. We live in a time when increased unity among Black people is sorely needed in this nation and unity among the races is needed in this world. Any celebration that promotes unity has my support.
The second principle, Kujichagulia, or Self-Determination, encourages participants to define themselves, speak for themselves and stand up for themselves.
The third principle, Ujima, or Collective Work and Responsibility, empowers individuals to succeed on together; it takes a team consisting of owners, employees, business and life partners, customers, and fans to succeed. Together, we create the mosaic that is community.
The fourth principle, Ujamaa, Cooperative Economics, is the sum of three concepts: shared wealth and work; economic self-reliance; obligation of generosity.
The fifth principle, Nia, or Purpose. It is the value-driven business career or life purpose, and the individual with a strong value system and purpose can change the world.
The sixth principle, Kuumba, Creativity. An underrated aspect of life and business is the creativity required to create. Coming up with an idea, seeing it though, keeping it going, keeping it fresh…Kwanzaa rightly celebrates creativity because it is what makes the world progress.
The seventh principle, Imani, or Faith. Families must have faith, and it is important, but the faith celebrated during Kwanzaa is deeper than that, it speaks to faith in self, in others, in the culture.
For people of African descent, this principle reminds them to place their faith in their parents, teachers and community leaders, while also trusting in the righteousness of their struggle. While we may not share their struggle directly, having faith in each other and even our nation reinforces the sense of unity and community that Kwanzaa is all about.
Have faith, be creative, work together, share the wealth, live your purpose – these are the ideas we all can and should emulate, whether we celebrate Kwanzaa or not. Kwanzaa is an healthy alternative or compliment to scheduled holiday activities.
For additional information on how to celebrate and/or host your Kwanzaa event, support local Kwanzaa events, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.