Mat/Mkeka :The First Kwanzaa Symbol

November 14, 2011

Kwanzaa symbols make up the “Kwanzaa Set” and are essential to the Kwanzaa celebration. Kwanzaa symbols are representations of the best of who we are and echo our highest ideals. Kwanzaa symbols reinforce the values, concepts and themes of the Kwanzaa holiday.

Symbol One: Mat/Mkeka -African/American Tradition and History

Explanation: This Kwanzaa symbol is symbolic of the tradition and history for African Americans both on the continent of Africa and in the United States. All Kwanzaa symbols are placed on the mat.

Tradition is a very important concept and practice in the Kwanzaa celebration. Placing all of other Kwanzaa symbols on the mat reinforces the concept and practice of American Americans building on their proud culture and history. Tradition is the vehicle by which cultural and social practices proven effective are past down from generation to generation. For example, the extended family is one of the served African Americans well and is one of the most effective for providing an extensive network of nurturing and caring adults.

The Ghanaian word Sankofa which literally means “to go back and get it,” reinforces and stresses the importance of tradition. The symbols for Sankofa depicts a mythical bird flying forward with its head turned backward. The egg in its mouth represents the “gems” or knowledge of the past upon which wisdom is based; it also signifies the generation to come that would benefit from that wisdom. This symbol often is associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates to, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” The Akan believe that the past illuminates the present and that the search for knowledge is a life-long process. The pictograph illustrates the quest for knowledge, while the proverb suggests the rightness of such a quest as long as it is based on knowledge of the past.

See our Kwanzaa DVD information for all  the information you need to know to celebrate  Kwanzaa.

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