a lazy woman’s guide to kwanzaa
December 27, 2008, 6:47 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

habari gani? it means what’s the news in swahili and is the official greeting of the kwanzaa season. the answer: kwanzaa bitches! actually, please don’t ever answer it that way, afro-centric black (and white for that matter) people would never forgive you. the real answer to that question is whatever the principle of the day happens to be. which today is umoja, unity.

before i even get into the history, a few things it might help to know. the terms used during kwanzaa are swahili, which, for whatever reason, was decided upon to be the official language afro-aware black people would use to celebrate their blackness ( i asked my dad, knower of all things random, and he believes it’s because swahili is one of the only non-european languages that’s spoken in more than one african country). here’s a short list of key terms:

nguzu saba ( in-goo-zoo sah-bah) = the seven principles of kwanzaa

kinara (ken-are-ah) = the candle holder

ziwadi ( zuh-wah-di) = the gifts exchanged any given night

there are some other ones, but those are the most clutch. so now the history. kwanzaa was started by maulana (a swahili {big surprise, right} term meaning teacher or master) ron karenga, an influential activist and scholar during the black power movement. inspired by the void he percieved in cultural institutions african-americans could identify with, he decided to develop his own holiday; the result, kwanzaa. based on traditional harvest season celebrations, kwanzaa begins the day after christmas and lasts for a week ending on new years day. everyday a different principle is celebrated, and gifts are usually exchanged; the ziwadi are often homemade and should reflect the principle of the day. it is celebrated by the lighting of candles, one black, three green and three red (black for the skin of the people, green for the land, red for the blood), one each night, and community celebrations which include, but are not limited to: discussions about what the nguzu saba means, how we have practiced them in the past year and new ways to apply them in the year to come, food, libations/ancestor appreciation, the making and/or exchanging of ziwadi, songs, stories, and meditation. the principles are, in order:

– umoja (oo-mo-jah) = unity

– kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-lee-ah) = self-determination

– ujima (oo-gee-mah) = collective work & responsibility

– ujamaa (oo-jah-ma-ah) = cooperative economics

– kuumba (koo-oom-bah) = creativity

– nia (nee-ah) = purpose

– imani (ee-mah-nee) = faith

so now that you know the basics, grab your dashiki, a bean pie, the white woman that every black revolutionary should have by their side, and enjoy. ashe.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This posting is one of best things I have ever read on the web.It is intelligently done,with thoughtful content, style, grace and wit.I learned more from this posting about Kwanzaa than I ever knew before.I love your way of writing! thank you!


Comment by andrew

Damn those revolutionary black men, stealing all the good white women…hahaha kidding… Good work!! Love it


Comment by heather.renee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: