Kwanzaa Symbol: Corn/Muhindi

December 13, 2012

Kwanzaa symbols make up the “Kwanzaa Set” and are essential to the Kwanzaa celebration. Kwanzaa symbols reinforce the values, concepts and themes of the Kwanzaa holiday. The symbols also are instructive, furnishing lessons and narratives which can serve as powerful illustrations in support of an enriched social, moral and intellectual development.

Symbol Four: Corn/Muhindi- Children

This is Kwanzaa symbol represents children. All families regardless of whether they have children place ears of corn on the Kwanzaa “Mat” in recognition that we all are collectively responsible for the care, welfare, and development of children.

Explanation: Kwanzaa emphasizes the value and preciousness of children. As mentioned above, all families place an ear of corn on the Kwanzaa “Mat” as a commitment, duty, and obligation to care for and nurture children, non biological as well as biological. This concept and practice of all adults in the community being collectively responsible for children is rooted in the African model of parenting. Both the Southern African American traditional parenting model the model in Africa, see children as belonging  to the community; hence, the adults in the community have an obligation to parent. The African proverb, therefore advises that “It take a village to raise a child.” One of the benefits and strength of this model is the number of adults in the environment of children who are able to nurture and care for their needs.

Adama and Naomi Doumbia explain in Africa, children “have more than one set of parents and know many women as mother and many men as father.” In this parenting approach, the child grows up experiencing and knowing that all adults are responsibility for his/her well-being, and that support does not rest solely with his/her parents. So that “what fathers can not offer, uncles will. What mothers can not give sisters and cousins and others will. Consequently, children in this model begin life with an enlarged sense of belonging and significance.”

Put another way, African American adults are responsible for the success and failure of black children. Here, the Kwanzaa principle Ujima is clear and instructive: The well-being and performance of African American children is derived from and made possible by the adults in the families and communities of the children; that the lives of every child and that of the adults  are bound together;  that the success of any one their lives is an aspect of and dependent on the goodness and responsibility of the adults in the community; and that finally, there can be no private accounting of the success or failure of their individual lives one by one independent of the adults in the community.

Thus, again, this model of parenting and child care provides the context for the wholesome development of children. In that all adults share in the instruction, support and nurturing of children, no child grow without love and guidance, affirming and fastening the bonds of affection and parenting.

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