What is Kwanzaa
“Kwanzaa” comes from the swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first-fruits.” It is a non religious holiday celebrating the unity of those in the African diaspora. It is a week long celebration which is observed December 26th to January 1st. It is intended to honor our African Heritage and culture. Kwanzaa was created in the 60s during the Black Power movement. This will be my first year celebrating and I’m ecstatic.
Why You Should Celebrate
I am convinced, now more than ever, that it’s time for black people regardless of nationality to celebrate Kwanzaa. Most Africans of the diaspora are disconnected from their lineage and have no real idea where it begins. This lack of self knowledge is the reason we are mentally and spiritually divided and I’m not talking religion. I must admit that the current social awareness such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ has sparked this urge to connect with my people. Because mainstream media dehumanizes Blacks I feel it is dire for us to change the narrative. The injustice Blacks have been subjected to is nothing new but thanks to social media our systemized struggle for equality is being seen and heard worldwide.
By celebrating Kwanzaa you will strengthen your bond with fellow Africans, learn unbiased African history, properly educate the youth preventing the school to prison pipeline and prison industrial complex, build and uplift stronger communities, develop group economics while continuing our ongoing fight for social justice.
How to Observe Kwanzaa
Greet other observers with, “Habari Gani” which means “What is the news” in Swahili. They should respond with one of the seven principles according to that day. The infograph below shows the greeting and meanings.
Overstand the seven Principles of Kwanzaa
Things You’ll Need
- Mkeka – decorative mat which is the foundation; other symbols will be placed on it
- Mazao – Crops representing the harvest and collective labour
- Mahindi – Ears of corn symbolizing children and the future
- Kinara – 7 candle candelabra symbolizing our African roots
- Mishumaa Saba – Candles representing the seven principles to live by 3 red for our struggle/lineage 1 black for African unity 3 green candles for hope & wealth; The order of the candle lighting are: Black candle, Far left red candle, Far right green candle, Second red candle, Second green candle, Last red candle, Last green candle
- Kikombe cha Umoja – communal cup for drinking and pouring libations
- Zawadi – Gifts to exchange on January 1st promoting knowledge ie. Books
Observing Kwanzaa is super simple once you have all of the decorations and understand the seven principles. Each day/night you light the candles in order, reflect on that days principle, drink from the communal cup, pour libations and have your feast. And you can dress for the occasion, dashikis, kaftans, headwraps, and african prints recommended!
Habari Gani & Joyous Kwanzaa!