Kwanzaa Family Ingathering

December 17, 2013

Family ingathering, one of the essential daily Kwanzaa rituals, is the starting point for the celebration of Kwanzaa. As a cultural holiday that places a premium and priority on building strong families and family ties, the ingathering activity is a way for family members to reinforce the bonds of affection which tether them together as a family.

During Kwanzaa, the family comes together to celebrate the joy of family and family life, of recounting special and memorable moments, of remembering loved ones who are no longer with us, and of discussing ways of establishing closer bonds and building greater family capacity. To be sure, the family ingathering activity is a joyous one, celebrating and focusing on the positive contributions that family members have made to the welfare, needs, and aspirations of the family.

For young children and youth, the Kwanzaa ingathering provides them with a setting to share their talents (reading, citing poetry or proverbs, telling stories, singing, or recounting events and of the past as well as future aspirations). For older youth and adults, family ingathering provides a context to share stories and give thanks and praise to family members. Parents in particular shower their children with love and affection, acknowledging their achievements, and most importantly, their efforts (red candle) that made possible their child’s or youth’s achievement.

Kwanzaa family ingathering is also a time for instruction and taking account of what the family and individual family members have achieved, and what they want to achieve in coming year. Through proverbs, poetry, storytelling (fictional or narrative history), the family is instructed on the value and importance of the principle for that particular day of Kwanzaa (e.g., the story of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, as an example of the Unity principle or an example of unity displayed by family members).

The family discussion and instruction is followed up with a taking of inventory of what each family member has achieved, relative to their commitment to the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa (e.g., Collective Work & Responsibility). To be sure, this process allows the family to assess its strength, capacity, and/or vulnerability, and to take corrective action, if needed, through Kwanzaa commitments for the coming (future) year.

Moreover, Kwanzaa and specifically, the ingathering ritual activity is a simple, but powerful tool to strengthen, enhance, and build family capacity and efficacy. Sustaining this activity throughout the year can ensure that the family does not drift apart and become a collection of individuals, each pursuing his or her own interest at the expense of other family members and the welfare of the family.

In brief, the ingathering Kwanzaa activity, if adopted by a critical mass of African American families, would be a game changer, and set us on a path of recovery, restoration, and revitalization.

Celebrate Kwanzaa, Celebrate Family and Culture

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