Peace, brothas and sistas…
Let me share this with you, I know its quite likely that many are not really aware of this celebration. (26 December – 1 January)
So, what is Kwanzaa? The word is taken from a Swahili phrase (Matunda Ya Kwanzaa) meaning “First Fruits”, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Afrika. The celebration begins on 26 December – 1 January (annually) and was founded by Dr Maulana Karenga. The main purpose is to re-instill, reaffirm, re-enforce and restoring culture, particularly Afrikan culture among Afrikans. Our culture, identity and history as Afrikans has been distorted and to a large extent lost and forgotten. There are many reasons that contributed to this: the Diaspora; westernization; colonialism (to name a few). We all have our own ideas and explanations serving to explain how all this came to be, but what we all know is that Afrikan culture; identity and history does need to be reaffirmed and restored.
Kwanzaa is celebrated in many ways, these differ from family to family, but what is common and shared by all is the celebrating through acknowledging the Nguzo Saba (the 7 Principles) which are observed on each day of the celebration (one principle a day for 7 days). These principles derive from ancient Afrikan concepts which are common throughout Afrika. Out of many, Dr Karenga saw these particular ones as most universal and neutral to all Afrikans (at home and abroad – as the grand elder Marcus Garvey would say). The Nguzo Saba are as follows. 1) Umoja – Unity (2) Kujichagulia – Self-Determination (3) Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility (4) Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics (5) Nia – Purpose (6) Kuumba – Creativity (7) Imani – Faith.
Dr Maulana Karenga (Founder)
Why Swahili? For a long time Swahili has been seen as a Pan-Afrikan language and it one of the most spoken Afrikan languages on an international level. Its that simple. Therefore, Swahili is the language from which all these terms derives from.
Check out this extract from the official website:
“The first-fruits celebrations are recorded in African histoy as far back as ancient Egypt and Nubia and appear in ancient and modern times in other classical African civilizations such as Ashantiland and Yorubaland. These celebrations are also found in ancient and modern times among societies as large as empires (the Zulu or kingdoms (Swaziland) or smaller societies and groups like the Matabele, Thonga and Lovedu, all of Southeastern Africa. Kwanzaa builds on the five fundamental activities of Continental African “first fruit” celebrations: ingathering; reverence; commemoration; recommitment; and celebration. Kwanzaa, then, is:
- a time of ingathering of the people to reaffirm the bonds between them;
- a time of special reverence for the creator and creation in thanks and respect for the blessings, bountifulness and beauty of creation;
- a time for commemoration of the past in pursuit of its lessons and in honor of its models of human excellence, our ancestors;
- a time of recommitment to our highest cultural ideals in our ongoing effort to always bring forth the best of African cultural thought and practice; and
- a time for celebration of the Good, the good of life and of existence itself, the good of family, community and culture, the good of the awesome and the ordinary, in a word the good of the divine, natural and social.”