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Kwanzaa: A Celebration of African American Family, Community and Culture
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Celebrating Kwanzaa


 

Procedures
  First, a central place in the home for the Kwanzaa Set, the symbols of Kwanzaa is chosen. A table is then spread with a beautiful piece of African cloth. Then, the mkeka (mat) is placed down and all of the other symbols are placed on it or immediately next to it to symbolize our rootedness in our tradition. Next the Kinara (candle holder) is placed on the mat and the Mishumaa Saba (seven candles) are placed in the kinara (candle holder).

The Kinara for The Mishumaa Saba   The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. Therefore there is one black candle, three red and three green candles. These are the mishumaa saba (the seven candles) and they represent the seven principles. The black candle represents the first principle Umoja (unity) and is placed in the center of the kinara. The red candles represent the principles of Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujamaa (cooperative economics) and Kuumba (creativity) and are placed to the left of the black candle. The green candles represent the principles of Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Nia (purpose) and Imani (faith) and are placed to the right of the black candle. The black candle is lit first on the first day of the celebration. And the remaining candles are lit afterwards from left to right on the following days. This procedure is to indicate that the people come first, then the struggle and then the hope that comes from the struggle.

Pouring the Tambiko for Kwanzaa   And then the mazao (crops), and ears of corn are also placed on the mkeka. At least two ears of corn are placed down on the mat regardless of whether there are children in the immediate family or not for the children of the community belong to all of us and every adult in African tradition is considered an immediate or social parent. Next the kikombe cha umoja (the Unity cup) is then placed on the mkeka (mat). It is used to pour tambiko (libation) to the ancestors in remembrance and honor of those who paved the path down which we walk and who taught us the good, the Tamshi  and the beautiful in life. Then African art objects and books on the life and culture of African people are also placed on or next to the mat to symbolize our commitment to heritage and learning.


*Summarized from -- Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture, 2008, Los Angeles: University of Sankore Press (www.sankorepress.com)