Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966. It is a festival celebrated by African Americans, but is gradually gaining acknowledgment and importance in other parts of the world.
It’s rooted in the black nationalist movement and was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African culture and historical heritage. Kwanzaa is observed from December 26 to January 1.
The word Kwanzaa
means“first fruits” (referring to the first fruits of harvest, similar to our Thanksgiving celebration). It is through this celebration that traditional African principles are taught or reinforced.
The ultimate aim of Kwanzaa is to strengthen family values.Above taken from African American Awareness for Young Children, Good Year Books Copyright 1999.
7 Candles for 7 Principles
The Kinara holds 7 candles. There are 3 red candles on the left, 3 green candles on the right, and a black candle sits in the center.
Each candle has a principle attached to it: Unity, Self Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith.
Unity – “Umoja” stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community.
Self Determination – “Kujichagulia” requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.
Collective Work and Responsibility – “Ujima” 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.
Cooperative Economics – “Ujamaa” emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.
Purpose – “Nia” encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.
Creativity – “Kuumba” makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.
Faith – “Imani” 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.
It’s obvious how this tradition is gaining momentum all over the world, as these principles can benefit all nations, all communities, and all people, everywhere.
For the Kwanzaa celebration that took place on December 8th, 2018 at the Springwood Senior Center, the opening festivities began with a Flag Presentation by Boy Scout Troop 241 and continued with the Negro National Anthem performed by College Achieve Choir, then the South African National Anthem by the Choir of Asbury Park, along with a “Words of Wisdom” poetry reading by Sun Lite.
To show creative expression, a performance was given by New Creation Tae Kwon Do and the Barack Obama School Music Department.
Offering “The Nguzo Saba” (meaning of the 7 principles) and the History of Kwanzaa was M’Zume, (The Wisdom Keeper) Brother Tyrone Laws. The Unity Cup of Kwanzaa is used to perform the libation ceremony for the Karamu ritual. The cup is passed among family and guests to signify the unity of those souls from the past with the souls of the present.
The Kwanzaa celebration is embraced with an abundance of music, dancing, & rejoicing. Refreshments are served and there’s a raffle prize to give away. It’s a fun and festive celebration which holds participation by much of the Asbury Park community.