Self-care is uplifted by the celebration of Kwanzaa today, which celebrates our African heritage. As a cab driver once told me, “we are all from the same village.” As times change, we realize that the world is now our village.
May we care for ourselves through the pride, honor and respect for ourselves as we uplift the Nguzu Saba, the principles of truth and meaning to guide us in the celebration of each day,
into the New Year.
Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a new principle, and the evening candle-lighting ceremony provides an opportunity to discuss the principle and its meaning. The first night the black candle in the center is lit and the principle of Umoja (Unity) is discussed.
The first principle, celebrated today is Umoja (Unity): maintaining unity as a family, community and race of people.
The other days include: Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): defining, naming and creating and speaking for ourselves. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): building and maintaining our community–solving problems together. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics: building and maintaining retail stores and other businesses and to profit from these ventures. Nia (Purpose): work collectively to build communities that will restore the greatness of African people. Kuumba (Creativity): to find new, innovative ways to leave communities of African descent in more beautiful and beneficial ways than the community inherited. Imani (Faith): honoring our best traditions as a family and community.
Symbols of Kwanzaa include:
Mazao (Crops): these crops symbolize African harvesting celebrations as well as the rewards of productivity and collective labor.
Mkeka (Mat): the mat symbolizes the foundation of the African Diaspora–tradition and heritage.
Kinara (Candleholder): the candleholder symbolizes African roots.
Muhindi (Corn): corn represents children and the future, which belongs to them.
Mishumaa Saba (Seven Candles): emblematic of Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa. These candles embody the values of the African Diaspora.
Kikombe cha Umoja (Unity Cup): symbolizes the foundation, principle and practice of unity.
Zawadi (Gifts): represent parental labor and love. Also symbolizes the commitments that parents make to their children.
Bendera (Flag): the colors of the Kwanzaa flag are black, red and green. These colors were originally established as colors of freedom and unity by Marcus Mosaih Garvey. The black is for people; red, the struggles endured; and green, for the future and hope of their struggles.