Category Archives: Kwanzaa

The Day of Meditation (Siku ya Taamuli)

The last day of Kwanzaa is the first day of the new year, January 1. Historically this has been for African people a time of sober assessment of things done and things to do, of self-reflection and reflection on the life and future of the people and of re-commitment to their highest cultural values in a special way. Following in this tradition, it is a time to ask and answer soberly and humbly the three Kawaida questions: Who am I; am I really who I say I am; and am I all I ought to be? And it is, of necessity, a time to recommit ourselves to our highest ideals, in a word, to the best of what it means to be both African and human in the fullest sense.

 


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TAMSHI LA TAMBIKO (The Libation Statement)

 Below is the Tamshi La Tambiko as written  by Dr. Maulana Karenga…

Our fathers and mothers came here, lived, loved, struggled and built here. At this place, their love and labor rose like the sun and gave strength and meaning to the day. For them, then, who gave so much we give in return. On this same soil we will sow our seeds, and liberation and a higher level of human life. May our eyes be the eagle, our strength be the elephant, and the boldness of our life be like the lion. And may we remember and honor our ancestors and the legacy they left for as long as the sun shines and the waters flow.

For our people everywhere then:

For Shaka, Samory, and Nzingha and all the others known and unknown who defended our ancestral land, history and humanity from alien invaders;

For Garvey, Muhammad, Malcolm, and King; Harriet, Fannie Lou, Sojourner, Bethune, and Nat Turner and all the others who dared to define, defend, and develop our interests as a people;

For our children and the fuller and freer lives they will live because we struggles;

For Kawaida and the Nguzo Saba, the new system of views and values which gives identity, purpose, and direction to our lives;

For the new world we struggle to build;

And for the continuing struggle through which we will inevitably rescue and reconstruct our history and humanity in our own image and according to our own needs.

                            – Maulana Karenga

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The Kwanzaa Celebration

First, a central place in the home is chosen for the Kwanzaa Set, the symbols of Kwanzaa. A table is then spread with a beautiful piece of African cloth. Then, the mkeka (mat) is placed down and all of the other symbols are placed on it or immediately next to it to symbolize our rootedness in our tradition. Next the Kinara (candle holder) is placed on the mat and the Mishumaa Saba (seven candles) are placed in the kinara (candle holder).

 

Kwanzaa flag share the same colours as Marcus Garvey's UNIA

The colours of Kwanzaa are black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. Therefore there is one black candle, three red and three green candles. These are the mishumaa saba (the seven candles) and they represent the seven principles. The black candle represents the first principle Umoja (unity) and is placed in the centre of the kinara. The red candles represent the principles of Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujamaa (cooperative economics) and Kuumba (creativity) and are placed to the left of the black candle. The green candles represent the principles of Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Nia (purpose) and Imani (faith) and are placed to the right of the black candle. The black candle is lit first on the first day of the celebration. And the remaining candles are lit afterwards from left to right on the following days. This procedure is to indicate that the people come first, then the struggle and then the hope that comes from the struggle.

And then the mazao (crops), and ears of corn are also placed on the mkeka. At least two ears of corn are placed down on the mat regardless of whether there are children in the immediate family or not for the children of the community belong to all of us and every adult in African tradition is considered an immediate or social parent. Next the kikombe cha umoja (the Unity cup) is then placed on the mkeka (mat). It is used to pour tambiko (libation) to the ancestors in remembrance and honour of those who paved the path down which we walk and who taught us the good, the Tamshi  and the beautiful in life. Then African art objects and books on the life and culture of African people are also placed on or next to the mat to symbolize our commitment to heritage and learning.

 

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The Kwanzaa Symbols

Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols and two added ones. Each represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and promote community cohesion:

 

The Crops (Mazao)
These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labour.

The Mat (Mkeka)
This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.

The Candle Holder (Kinara)
This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people — continental Africans.

The Corn  (Muhindi)
This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.

 

The Seven Candles (Mishumaa Saba)
These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.

The Unity Cup (Kikombe cha Umoja)
This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.

The Gifts  (Zawadi)
These are symbolic of the labour and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children.

The two supplemental symbols are:

The Flag (Bendera)
The colours of the Kwanzaa flag are the colours of the Organization Us, black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. It is based on the colours given by the Hon. Marcus Garvey as national colours for African people throughout the world.
Poster of The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba Poster)

 

 

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The Kwanzaa Greeting

 We hope you are enjoying the festive season, NBA have been sharing various information about he African Festval Kwanzaa. It is day three of Kwanzaa and today we are giving you a bite size blog about Kwanzaa greetings…

The greetings during Kwanzaa are in Swahili. Swahili is a Pan-African language and is chosen to reflect Africans of the Diaspora ‘s commitment to the whole of Africa and African culture rather than to a specific ethnic or national group or culture. The greetings are to reinforce awareness of and commitment to the Seven Principles (we gave you a brief overview of the 7 principles yesterday). It is: “Habari gani?” and the answer is each of the principles for each of the days of Kwanzaa, i.e., “Umoja”, on the first day, “Kujichagulia”, on the second day and so on.

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The Kwanzaa Principles

A principle is a rule or law that governs conduct in a given situation. The Nguzo Saba are the set of principles/values by which African people are encouraged to follow in order to live their lives. 

Day 1: December 26th

UMOJA (UNITY) (oo-MOE-jah)

Definition – To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Day 2: December 27th

KUJICHAGULIA (SELF DETERMINATION) (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah)

Definition – To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Day 3: December 28th

UJIMA (COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY) (oo-JEE-mah)

Definition – To build and maintain our community together and to make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

Day 4: December 29th

UJAMAA (COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS) (oo-JAH-mah)

Definition – To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit together from them.

Day 5: December 30th:

NIA (PURPOSE) (nee-AH)

Definition – To make as our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Day 6: December 31st

KUUMBA (CREATIVITY) (koo-OOM-bah)

Definition – To do always as much as we can, in the way that we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it.

Day 7: January 1st

IMANI (FAITH) (ee-MAH-nee)

Definition – To believe with all our hearts in our parents, our teachers, our leaders, our people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. 

 

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Five Facts About Kwanzaa

Dr Maulana Karenga founder of Kwanzaa

From 26th December to 1st January NBA will be sharing various information about Kwanzaa- here are five facts to start the proceedings…

 1. It was created by Dr Maulana Karenga  and was first celebrated in 1966. Karenga created Kwanzaa as the first African holiday. Karenga said his goal was to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”

2. Kwanzaa is a week long celebration honouring African heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year. It features activities such as lighting a candle holder with seven candles and culminates in a feast and gift giving.

3. The name Kwanzaa is a Kiswahili word for “the first fruits of the harvest”. Kiswahili was chosen because it is a non-tribal African language which encompasses a large portion of the African continent.

4. Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among Africans of the Diaspora.

5. The seven basic values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles.

 

 

 

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