In 1966, Dr .Maulana Karenga introduced Black people in America to a holiday known as
Matunda ya kwanza aka Kwanza. Kwanza is a Swahili term that means first harvest. The holiday
of Kwanza is based on reconnecting the Black family structure, culture as well as the social and
economical condition of the Black community. Kwanza is also intended to reconnect Black
people in America to their African roots/origins. Kwanza ceremonies consist of food, dance,
and song, libations (ancestral blessings & offerings). The Kinara/ candle holder holds seven
candles(seven principles) in which, symbolizes the lineage of the blood line that connects us all
to our African heritage. Kwanza is celebrated by a few million people (mainly in America).
Kwanza is celebrated for Seven days (Dec 26 - Jan 1) and seven principles are emphasized. The
Seven principles of Kwanza are; 1) Unity/Umoja - strive for togetherness within family,
community nationally and worldly, 2) Self determination/ Kujichagulia - create our (Black) own
identities & destinies as well as solving our own problem (politically, socially & economically). 3)
Collective work & responsibility/ Ujima - invest in our communities plus build stronger
relationships with each other. 4) Co-operative economics/ Ujamaa - strive to strengthen our
business establishments 5) Purpose/Nia -take incentive to rebuild our communities (morally &
physically) 6) Creativity / Kuumba - improve our communities and ensure we contribute (time
& money) as oppose to destroying (drugs and violence) our communities 7) Faith/Imani- believe
on each other so, we can overcome social and economical ills. Kwanza also highlights symbols
such as; Mazzo/crops(fruit of labor),Muhind/ ears of corn(fertility), Zawadi/gifts, Mkeka/straw
mat in which holds all of the symbols. I personally feel Kwanza is necessary based on the fact
that for several centuries Black people were told that everything associated with Africa was
inferior to Europe and unfortunately some Black People still believe that. Kwanza builds self
esteem, pride and appreciation inside of the souls of the Black people who are seeking to get in
tune with their African roots/heritage. I was unable to locate statistics and data of how many
people precisely practice/observe Kwanza. I've concluded my research with the uncertainty of
how many countries Kwanza in celebrated, but I'm certain that harvest festivals are celebrated
in African countries i.e. Ghana and Nigeria and celebrating the harvest (from the root to the
fruit) is the foundation of Kwanza. I personally feel that Christmas focuses on consumption (buy
as much stuff as possible). I also think that seven days of dedication and unity are more
effective than one day of unity or one day expecting expensive objects. My Mother did give me
a multitude of joyous memories on 12/25, but I think Christmas is so economically driven the
true meaning gets distorted. Yes, imagination is cool for children, but what about the children,
who like me didn't have a chimney for Santa? I don't think there's anything wrong with
Christmas, except the fact that Jesus Christ's name was Yoshua Ben Yousef and he was
supposedly born in the spring. Saturnalia & Yule are the original holidays in which, inspired
Christmas. I hope to expose my (unborn) children to a variety of Celebrations so; they can see
that ultimately no matter the culture, religion, country or continent we (humans) all need food,
clothing & shelter and we all seek love peace & happiness! This past Wednesday I was in
attendance at the Kwanza celebration that was held at Laney. This Kwanza consisted of vibrant
drumming, eloquent poetry, beautiful people, awesome attire, resilient songs and healthy but,
yet tasty soul food. After this uplifting experience my interest has been ignited so, I have plans
to organize a Kwanza for my tribe (friends & fam).


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