Habari Gani! – How are You?!
Since today is the third day of Kwanzaa, the response is Ujima!
Kwanzaa, meaning first in Kiswahili, originally started in the USA and now encompasses the pan-African Diaspora. It is a non-religious Afrocentric celebration of family, community, plus culture. Introduced by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana Studies in 1966, it runs from December 26th through January 1st. Each observance enjoins communitarian practices of Continental African, and also African American cultures.
During the holiday, people come together to commemorate and organize around The Seven Principles known as, Nguzo Saba.
These Seven Principles are as follows:
- Umoja – Unity
- Kujichagulia – Self-Determination
- Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility
- Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics
- Nia – Purpose
- Kuumba – Creativity
- Imani – Faith
Each day, one lights a candle commemorating one of The Seven Principles. Then, participants celebrate with feasts, original art such as music, dance, poetry, and more. It is a time of reflection as well as a recommitment to Nguzo Saba, plus other related cultural values.
WHEN, WHY, HOW IT BEGAN
Within those latter years of the Modern Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black is Beautiful cultural movements of the 1950s-60s in America, evolved Kwanzaa. During this time, Black Americans began to reconnect, but significantly, culturally embrace Africa. Therefore, they abandoned previously held racist ideas of Africa as that “dark” and forbidding continent. Consequently, with increase self-acceptance, Black Americans began retracing their African roots, learning languages, and history of the Motherland. At the same time, developed American Afrocentric cultural institutions.
Additionally, those changes also produced several notable cultural shifts within the Black American community. Among them include; a significant portion of the African American population converting to Islam. Moreover, this community now gives, and continues into the present day, their children African or Arabic sounding names. Furthermore, many Elders from this society likewise officially change their names. Important to realize, that phenomenon happens regardless of their religious affiliation. Hence, much of the vocabulary used in the Kwanzaa Festival is of Kiswahili origin.
If you know of any pan-African people who celebrate Kwanzaa, please get yourself invited to a celebration. You will be happy you did.
To learn more about Kwanzaa, visit their official website.