My husband, daughters and I had the extreme honor of taking part in a celebration of Kwanzaa recently. You can read more about this celebration of family, community and culture among Africans and African American people, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga here, but essentially, Kwanzaa is an African-American and Pan-African cultural holiday that focuses on seven principles (called Nguzo Saba in Swahili). They are:
Umoja (OO-MO-JAH) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, “I am We,” or “I am because We are.”
Kujichagulia (KOO-GEE-CHA-GOO-LEE-YAH) Self-Determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
Ujima (OO-GEE-MAH) Collective Work and Responsibility reminds us of our obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world. Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
Ujamaa (OO-JAH-MAH) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.
Nia (NEE-YAH) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.
Kuumba (KOO-OOM-BAH) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.
Imani (EE-MAH-NEE) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.
Happy Kwanzaa and here’s hoping you and yours are bountifully blessed in 2015!