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By Nehemiah D. Frank
Don’t let the name fool you. Kwanzaa, a Swahili word meaning “first” isn’t a religious event. The holiday merely seeks to remind and celebrate the love of Blackness, that’s everything that makes black people beautiful.
Kwanzaa is a time to reflect on family, community, and African people worldwide, including those living in the diaspora (the West Indies, Caribbean Islands, and the Americas).
It’s a seven-day-period that falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Some 30 million people in the African diaspora, who desire a connection to their roots, celebrate this holiday every year.
If you’re worried about having to skip Christmas or New Year’s, there’s no need to worry. You can celebrate both.
Here’s how to participate:
Each evening, gather with family, friends, and or community and celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Unity, Self-determination, Collective work and responsibility, Cooperative economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Every time you gather, light a candle to mark each principle.
When you greet your friends, be sure to say the Swahili greeting “Habari Gani,” which means “what’s the news?”
- December 26 Umoja – Unity
- December 27 Kujichagulia – Self-determination
- December 28 Ujima – Collective work and responsibility
- December 29 Ujamaa – Cooperative economics
- December 30 Nia – Purpose
- December 31 Kuumba – Creativity
- January 1 Imani – Faith
What you will need:
Mkeka – A woven straw mat
Mazao – Fresh fruit
Kinara – Candle holder
Mishumaa Saba – Seven candles
- 3 green candles — representing hope
- 3 red — the struggle
- 1 black — the people
Muhindi – Ears of Corn
Zawadi – Small gifts for children
Kikombe cha Umoja – Unity cup
If you can’t get every item needed to celebrate Kwanzaa in its fullness, remember what’s most important, gathering with family, friends, and members of your community.
Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times. He graduated from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science at Oklahoma State University. Nehemiah is an Editorial Community Advisory Board Member at the Tulsa World, in Tulsa, Oklahoma and a Blogger for Education Post in Chicago, IL. He has been featured on NBC, Blavity, and Tulsa People. Nehemiah is also an Educator and Administrator at Sankofa School of the Performing Arts in Tulsa, OK, a 2017 Terence Crutcher Foundation honoree, a recipient of the 2017 METCares Foundation Community Impact Award, and TED Talk Alumni.