Kwanzaa: The First Fruits Celebration- Nia Day
The Family Ingathering Activity
Today, the family and/or friends come together to discuss ways for the family, and/or friends and community can contribute to the noble purpose of nation-building. Nation-building, the grand strategy to organize African Americans into a self-conscious social force with the capacity to advance and defend the interest of black people, to restore them to builders of civilizations, begins in the family. The African proverb says: “The ruin of the nation begins in the home;” however, conversely, the revival of a nation begin in the family. Hence, the principle Nia or Purpose is instructive for the task of nation-building.
African Americans are an African people, forcibly brought to the United States of America from numerous ethnic groups in Africa. After 1865, the end of the Civil War, set about trying to construct our lives from the ashes of slavery. It was, however, in the opening decades of the 20th century that African Americans self-consciously decided that they were “instruments of history-making and race-building.” As documented by Alain Locke in his ground-breaking book, The New Negro, toward the task of nation-building, African American intellectuals and artist at the dawn of the 1920s were “actors and creators in the special occurrence of the birth” of African Americans as a people. This, the first of the Great Cultural Awakening, catapulted black people to the world stage where they became aware of their historical task of making their mark on human civilization. Marcus Garvey exhorted, “Up you mighty people, you can accomplish what you will.” And even prior to this Anna Julia Cooper, reminded us that “the fundamental agency under God in the regeneration, the re-thinking of the race, as well as the ground work and starting point of its progress upward, must begin with the black woman.”
And too, Cooper reminds us that nation-building begins in the home: A stream cannot rise higher than its source. The atmosphere of homes is no rarer and purer and sweeter than are the mothers in those homes. A race is about a total of families. The nation is the aggregate of its homes. As the whole is sum of all its parts, so the character of the part will determine the characteristics of the whole. The task of nation-building is a historical project grounded in the Kwanzaa principle of Nia- Purpose. We achieve this by using our talents to advance African Americans, not in opposition to others, but in our self-interest.
Remembrance and Libation Statement (Optional)
The Kwanzaa activity of pouring of libation is a spiritual and venerable act which has its roots in traditional African societies. It was done then and is done now to honor those who have gone before us. Their lives and contributions made it possible for us to live with more freedom and dignity.
The Nia commitment is made by each family member and is often done with the candle lighting activity. The family begins by discussing the principle –What they have done and what they will do doing the coming year to build and develop African Americans starting with their family and social community, ever mindful that this is a collective project
Nia Family Activity
The Nia activity is intended to reinforce the Nia principle. Therefore, the family engages or plans an activity of its choosing which highlight this principle.
Kwanzaa Karamu (The Feast)
There is no special or mandatory food for Kwanzaa. The choice of food is strictly an individual family decision. You may choose to go out for the Kwanzaa meal, order out, or cook. The aim is to make it a special meal in the way you determine.