The Participation of Children
Kwanzaa is a holiday with meaning and roles for all ages, especially children. Whatever the level of comprehension and capacity for participation, children must be allowed and encouraged to participate in Kwanzaa as fully as they are able. To reduce the children to mere recipients of gifts is to duplicate one of the most negative aspects of some Christmas celebrations. Kwanzaa, by its very purpose and principles, requires the full active participation of children. The principles are especially for them, for they are our future. Therefore, unless they learn and absorb these principles, the hope we have in them is futile or at best, on shaky foundations.
Children can participate in various ways. First, they should and can learn, recite and explain the Principles each day at meal times or in a special setting for it. Secondly, they can light the mishumaa for each day and explain each principle. Thirdly, children can help make Kwanzaa cards and other Kwanzaa items, and they can also help make and put up Kwanzaa decorations. This assistance would, in fact, be practice and encouragement of the sixth principle, Kuumba. Children are very creative at early ages and should be encouraged to maintain and develop such a capacity and interest. And Kwanzaa provides an ideal instructive and inspirational context for this.
Fourthly, children can help prepare special foods and the setting for Kwanzaa meals. They need not be given the responsibility for an entire meal, but they should be given a small but meaningful project which would in turn enhance the meaning and enjoyment of Kwanzaa for them. Finally, children can and should be encouraged to make dramatic, musical and dance presentations in celebration of Kwanzaa at home, school or in the context of their organization. These are just a few main ways children can and should be encouraged to participate. There are countless others and with a little Kuumba adults can discover and encourage them.