Kwanzaa The First Fruits Celebration Kujichagulia Day

December 26, 2015
Kwanzaa The First Fruits Celebration Kujichagulia Day


Today , the second day of Kwanzaa is Kujichagulia (Self-determination) Day. The essence of the meaning of this principle is for African Americans to think and act in their own interest based on their own particular needs and grounded in their history and culture. Every people thinks and acts from its cultural and historical framework. So for example the strengthening and rebuilding of the black family has to start from and build on the Southern black family model. This model of family was reflective of the African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child.” Hence, the family was a reflection of the community and the community was an extension of the family.

 Family Ingathering

On Kujichagulia Day, to discuss ways to expand their mental horizons through learning and appreciating their own heroes and heroines, beginning with their parents and grandparents and their parents who were part of the greatest generations. The unprecedented achievements of these generations- building model families and communities from the aches of slavery and in the face of Jim Crowism- white supremacy defined by legally imposed violence and terrorism and dehumanization and devaluation of life and lives. The women and men of these generations are our true heroines and heroes. They defined what it is to be strong and beautiful and productive. They faced challenges and odds which no other generation or people here in these United States had to face. They are deserving of our praise and respect; and thus, on this day of self-determination, we raise them as exemplars of the Kwanzaa principle Kujichagulia.

Remembrance

We remember and raised the names of our parents, grandparents and other loved ones who were part of the greatest generations. In calling their names, we bring forth their spirit and memories which will inform and guide our practice, our vision of what is possible and our aspirations for a more elevated life.

Candle Lighting Activity

Each day of Kwanzaa, the family lights one of the candles, which represents one of days and principles of Kwanzaa. On Kujichagulia (Self-determination) Day, we light the red candle. The red candle is symbolic of struggle, i.e., effort and work. The lesson here is that progress in any domain of life comes through effort and work. Frederick Douglass instructs us:

If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

Kujichagulia Commitment

The Kujichagulia commitment, like the Umoja commitment is often done while or with the candle lighting activity. The family begins by discussing Kujichagulia and how each family member has practiced Kujichgulia (previous year’s commitment) and how they will do more (next year’s Kujichagulia commitment) the following year.

Kujichagulia Family Activity

The Kujichgulia activity is intended to reinforce the Kujichagulia principle. Therefore, the family engages in an activity of its choosing to reinforce 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.

 

Heri (Happy) Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa The First Fruits Celebration: Umoja Day

December 26, 2015
Kwanzaa The First Fruits Celebration: Umoja Day

This is the first day of the Kwanzaa, Umoja Day. Today, the family and/or friends come together to celebrate family, the common good, and the love, caring, and sharing that is the foundation of our existence and the social glue which binds us as family.

The Ingathering Activity

The ingathering activity has historical significance. It is symbolic of ingathering which occurred during the “First Fruits” celebrations in ancient African civilizations. It was a time for the families of these communities to come together to reinforce the bonds of family and community, a time to give thanks for the harvest, and a time to celebrate the joy of living, underscored by 7 Principles which anchored the community. Today, we too come gather in the spirit and practice of our ancient ancestors in celebrating family and life and values- 7 Principles- which is the pathway to the Good Life. At the ingathering, family tell stories about family history and events (reunion), bring forth the memory of loved ones, and express their love and appreciation for each other.

Remembrance and Libation Statement

 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 dignity, freedom, possibilities, and opportunities. We call forth the name of our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins who have transition

We call upon our ancestors far and near, Fathers of our fathers, mothers of our mothers, to bear witness to what we are doing to honor your example, which continues to inspire us to make progress, and achieve morally and socially at our highest potential. We pour this libation to bring into our midst your venerable spirit of Loving, Caring, and Sharing, and your unyielding commitment to live ethical and productive lives. It is in honor of you that we pour libation. We call forth the name of our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins who have transition

Explanation of the Kwanzaa Symbols

During this first day and celebration, the family reviews and discusses the Kwanzaa symbols. This is value activity in that it provides a learning opportunity for everyone, especially children and youth. The meaning of the 7 Kwanzaa symbols are instructive and inform family and community practice.

Mkeka (The Mat) This symbol represents our history and culture both on the continent of African and here in America. We base our practice on our culture here and in selected instances, on the continent. Therefore, all the Kwanzaa symbols on the Mat.

Mazao (The Crops) This symbol represents work and achievements of the family, community, and African American people. The fruit represents the school grades, school achievements, workplace and social achievements by parents and children.

Kinara (The Candleholder) This symbol represents our parent people or continental African ancestors. We pay homage to our parent people who we owe our historical existence to.

Muhindi (Corn) This symbol represent children. Everyone, regardless if they have children or not, places an ear of corn on the Mat. In the tradition of the Southern culture of African Americans, children belong to and are the responsibility of every adult and are accountable to every adult in the community.

 Kikombe Cha Umoja (The Unity Cup) This symbol represents and reinforces the first of the 7 Principles- Umoja or Unity.

Zawadi (Gifts) This symbol represents gifts that in the Kwanzaa tradition are given to children and youth on the basis of Kwanzaa commitments (based on the 7 Principles) made and kept.

Mishuuma Saba (Seven Principles) This symbol represents the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa- Unity, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith.


Candle Lighting Activity

 Each day of Kwanzaa, the family lights one of the candles, which represents one of days and principles of Kwanzaa. On Umoja (Unity) Day, we light the black candle. The black candle is symbolic and representative of black people or African Americans. The lesson and discussion around this candle is twofold. First, inasmuch as the black candle is the unity candle and representative of black people, the family discusses ways to strengthen unity in the family and community in practical terms, using both current and historical (Montgomery Bus Boycott). Second, the family discuss the value and priority placed on respecting black life- not in opposition or indifference to other people’s lives, but in consideration that currently and historically black lives have been devalued and lessen. The lesson here is that “Black Lives”, i.e., black people, matter all the time and in every circumstance. 

Umoja Commitment

 The Umoja commitment by each family member is often done while or with the candle lighting activity. The family begins by discussing the value of unity and how doing the year each member has contributed to furthering unity in the family (previous year’s Unity commitment) and how they will do more (next year’s Unity commitment) the following year. Note that the Unity (Umoja) commitment) should be measurable and achievable. That is to say, each week/month, there is a way to determine what has been done toward increasing unity in the family).

Umoja Family Activity

 The Umoja activity is intended to reinforce the Umoja principle. Therefore, the family engages in an activity of its choosing (e.g., going to or watching a movie together, a family walk). Be sure to make it a fun and enjoyable activity.

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.

Heri (Happy) Kwanzaa

Martin Luther King Prophetic Message To America

January 15, 2015
Martin Luther King Prophetic Message To America

Consistent with the 7 Principles and symbols of Kwanzaa, we present the continuing African American Breakthrough Series. Each article in the series will be linked to one of the 7 Principles or symbols. This will provide an instructive example of how the principles and symbols can be used throughout the year. We are mindful that Kwanzaa is the dedicated period in which we take inventory of our commitments and our fidelity to our history and culture. 

The Kwanzaa principle Kujichagulia (Self-determination) and the symbol Mkeka (Mat) asks us to study and be informed by our history and culture and celebrate our heroes—women and men who have made a significant contributions to our lives and history. This month, we feature Martin Luther King, Jr.


In 1967 Martin Luther King posed the timely question in his final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Community or Chaos? The current state of America: perpetual war, devastating inequality, incessant violence and cruelty, and crippling racism, indifference, and neglect, merits revisiting King’s prophetic message to America.

Perpetual War

King observed that the obscene expenditure on the Vietnam War was one of the permanent features—“militarism,” of what he referred as “the triple evils,” corroding American society and threating humanity. “I knew,” he said, “I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government.” And still further, in a blistering criticism, King stated:

“And don’t let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, “You’re too arrogant! And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power.

And, in the best of the black prophetic tradition, King issued a jeremiad on America’s excessive military expenditures: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

In light of America’s “War on Terror” and President Obama going all in on the bombing in the Muslim world, King’s prophetic message merits attention. For as As George Santayana famously said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Faith/Imani Day: Seventh Day of Kwanzaa

December 31, 2014
Faith/Imani Day: Seventh Day of Kwanzaa

A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture

Imani:The duty to trust and believe in our parents and our parents and in our capacity as family, community and a people to achieve at our highest potential.” Today is the seventh and final day of Kwanzaa. Families, friends, and communities come together on this day assess, reassess, celebrate and recommit themselves to practicing the Imani principle. Faith is the bedrock principle. Faith, as Mary McLeod Bethune said, “is the first factor in a life devoted to service. Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible. Faith in God is the greatest power, but great, too, is faith in oneself.” Faith has been ever present in the black experience in America.  We are at a critical moment in our history. All of the metrics of well-being are trending in the negative. Our families continue to be challenged by absentee fathers and wayward youth, especially, black males. And, the resurgence of racism—police and civilian killings of unarmed blacks and at the incessant images of blacks as menacing and “takers”— makes this a “faith” moment. We have to believe in ourselves, our ability to solve our social ills and to push the political class to put in place public policies, backed by resources, which support and sustain families, high performing schools, and productive adults. We can achieve this if we keep the faith.

Howard Thurman on FaithFaith is the substance and spirit which makes “tired hearts refreshed and dead hopes stir with the nearness of life; faith is the “promise of tomorrow at the close of everyday, the triumph of life in the defiance of death, and the assurance that love is sturdier than hate, right is more confident than wrong, that good is more permanent than evil.

Ingathering Activity: The family  cones together and lights the green candle and talk about and commit to being more  trusting  in each other in the coming year.

Putting It All Together  Review your Kwanzaa commitments and record them in a Kwanzaa journal. Commit yourself and your family to reviewing your commitments, minimally monthly, and preferably weekly.

Creativity/Kuumba Day: Sixth Day of Kwanzaa

December 31, 2014
Creativity/Kuumba Day: Sixth Day of Kwanzaa

A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture”

 Today is the sixth day of Kwanzaa, a celebration of the Kwanzaa principle Kuumba/Creativity.


Kuumba:
Commitment, duty, and obligation to the practice of continuous improvement.” 

Creativity Theme: Leaving our families, community, and world a better place to live, work, and love

 

Today is the sixth day of Kwanzaa. Families, friends, and communities come together on this day assess, reassess, celebrate and recommit themselves to bettering the lives of their families, communities, and indeed the world.  The story of Lewis Latimer is marvelous example of the creativity principle. Latimer was a collaborative partner with Alexander Bell, Hiram Maxim and Thomas Edison. Bell invention of the telephone was incomplete and made possible with the drafting and drawing of the patent by Latimer. Thomas Edison invention of the light blub was inefficient, cost prohibitive, and ineffectual. Thus, it was left up to Latimer to improve upon the technology that was before him and invent the first carbon filament light bulb by combing previous manufacturing techniques with several new materials. Latimer’s light bulb was cost effective and long lasting, allowing families and businesses to live by lights. Thus, Latimer embodies the creativity principle and is a model to emulate.

Ingathering Activity: The family comes together and share memories and stories of how they have and will contribute to improving their family, school and community.

Candle Lighting Activity: On the sixth day of Kwanzaa the family lights the red candle. This candle is symbolic of struggle- continuous effort and work. The placement and order of the Kwanzaa candles teach and reinforce valuable lessons for the family. The lesson here is that we light the red candle to reinforce the value and priority we place struggle as the method for creating progress.

Karamu (Feast) and Celebration: Enjoy yourself and the delicious food; this is time for celebrate the joy of living, love among family and friends and the achievement of which have been attained throughout the year.

Nia Day

December 30, 2014
Nia Day

Happy Kwanzaa 

“A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture”

Nia Day 

Today is the fifth day of Kwanzaa, a celebration of the Kwanzaa principle Nia/Purpose.

Nia/Purpose: Commitment, duty, and obligation to contribute to the morally serious purpose and noble goal, of nation building, i.e. , the quest to recover and restore the   African American family, community, and people as a whole

Nia Theme: “Nation Building”

Today is the fifth day of Kwanzaa. Family come together to celebrate the Nia principle. Nia/Purpose principle is a call to nation building, a call to rehabilitate and restore African Americans to their traditional greatness, beginning at the level of the family. The African proverb is insightful in illuminating the centrality of the family in the nation building project, declaring: “The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.” And, conversely, the development and elevation of the nation begins in the home. This is an affirmation that nation building begins at the smallest level, the family.

Ingathering Activity:Today we come together as family to talk about the principle Niaand how we have observed this principle in practice throughout the year.

Candle Lighting Activity

On the fifth day of Kwanzaa, the family lights the green candle. This candle is symbolic the collective prosperity . Kwanzaa commitments are made around the Purpose principle.

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