According to the official Kwanzaa website, “Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture. Celebrated from 26 December thru 1 January, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language.”
This year, I decided to celebrate Kwanzaa and it was an amazing experience. A friend of mine, JoAnna, and I stayed in the city for Christmas, so we met up the Friday before to go to my favorite place for Spoken Word, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. The doors don’t open until 10p, but the people start lining up at 8:30p/9p – yes, it’s that serious. So, as we’re waiting in line, she told me about how she was going to celebrate Kwanzaa this year and she was going to make her own kinara. I wasn’t surprised, because she’s really creative, so much so that I call her Martha Stewart – lol. I had always been interested in Kwanzaa, the meaning of it, the purpose, so I told her I would like to join. Just like that, we were going to celebrate the following week.
We hung out on the first day of Kwanzaa in Harlem, and when we got back to Brooklyn we made the kinara and lit the first candle for the first principle – Umoja or “Unity”. It was super late, so for those who celebrate, yes – we mistakenly flipped it the wrong way but corrected it for the remaining days. ☺️
Each of the remaining six days (for a total of seven principles), we Facetimed before midnight to say what that particular principle meant to us, and lit the corresponding candle for that principle. We also went to a Kwanzaa event half-way through the week long celebration that showcased African-American artists and performers.
I have to say, that seemed like the longest week ever. I enjoyed it, and plan on doing it again, but I think it’s because I actually committed to something every single day. No matter what was going on, we made time to do this. Celebrating Kwanzaa taught me more than the seven principles, it taught me Commitment. I wasn’t quite sure how this would go since it was new to me, but it worked, and I learned a lot about myself (and discovered some pretty dope artists along the way).
I documented each principle on my Instagram (@visionboardliving), so check it out!
#Day7 Imani: Faith
We have to believe that those we seek guidance from won’t steer us wrong. That, is how we move forward. – Me