Umoja/Unity: Day One of Kwanzaa
A Celebration of Family, Community and the Common Good
Perspective on Unity
Promoting the unity of the human family is the task of the whole family. Unity is action on behalf of the family, calling us to help overcome the divisions among family members, and to strengthen the ties that define and bind us as family members. Unity is the spiritual and social gravity which pulls the family together- husband and wife, parent and children, and family and neighbor. At its core, the principle unity is about attachment- attachment to each others and most importantly to the values which define us as family, as community and as a people. On Unity Day, the family celebrates its togetherness (ingathering), the achievements of family members (the harvest concept of Kwanzaa).
Focus: What Unity Day is about?
Unity Day begins the Kwanzaa celebration. Each family/community celebrates Kwanzaa in a way that is most meaningful to them. That said; keep the following in mind when celebrating:
- Have the family engage briefly or as long as you desire in the purpose of the Kwanzaa celebration
- Review the Kwanzaa symbols
- Make the celebration focus on your family
- Make the celebration festive and joyous
- Try to have a special meal- at home or away
- Make the day special with a focus on family togetherness
Unity Day Activities:
The activities of Unity Day should reinforce the principle unity. Therefore, here are some suggestions (Note you do not have to do all of these or you may select what you want to do to reinforce principle unity).
- Pour Libation for your family members and African heroes and heroines who are no longer living
- Tell stories about your family-remember your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, significant others
- Together-proverbs, folktales, riddles
- Husband and wife talk about your history together and the things which you have done together with brings you joy
- Sing Along-play music and sing together
- Celebrate Celebrate, Celebrate: family, achievements, the common good
- Karamu (African Feast)
Poem Haki Madhubuti: The Union of Two (Excerpt)
Those who grow into love/ remain anchored
Like Egyptian architecture and seasonal flowers
Watered with morning and evening promises
Marriage is an art/created by the serious, enjoyed by the mature
Seeking common mission, willing work, memory, melody, song
This symbol represents and reinforces the first principle of Kwanzaa. Unity is gravity which pulls and holds the family and community together. During Kwanzaa as well as on special occasions-birthday celebrations, graduations, weddings or anniversaries- immediate family members drink from the Unity Cup to symbolize and reinforce the bonds of affection that bind them together.
Candle Lighting: On the first day of Kwanzaa the family lights the black candle. This candle is symbolic of the black people. The placement and order of the Kwanzaa candles teach and reinforce valuable lessons for the family. The black candle- represents and is symbolic of the people. The lesson is that we light the black candle first to reinforce the value of making our family a priority. The African proverb says, “The ruin of a nation begins in the home,” The Unity principle demands that family members and neighbors respect and care for each other. The candle lighting activity presents one of the best moments for family members to assess their practice around “unity” and make a specific commitment to practice “unity” during the next year.
Note: Emphasize the positive in the assessment. Do not start with what has not been done. Reinforce and reward even partial achievement or success. Record your family commitments in a Kwanzaa journal.