A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture

Joyous Kwanzaa Dec.26th-Jan.1st : Inaugurated in 1965 by Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa is the first holiday created to help African-Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage. The name Kwanzaa actually derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning first fruits of the harvest. There are 7 principles of Kwanzaa or Nguzo Saba and each is dedicated to 1 of the 7 days of this holiday. Check them out:

¥ Unity - To strive and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
¥ Self-Determination - To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
¥ Collective Work and Responsibility - To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
¥ Cooperative Economics - To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
¥ Purpose - To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
¥ Creativity - To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
¥ Faith – To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

As I read over these
7 principles, I am struck by how they reflect and speak to helping one’s community, supporting self, honoring family, teachers, leaders, working hard to achieve benefits for oneself and one’s community and believing in now and in the future for better things to come. These words and principles touch my heart with their good intention and positivity. Moreover, children are included in the Kwanzaa ceremonies during which respect and gratitude are given to one’s ancestors. Wonderfully, at the end of the multiple ceremonies, a family/community feast follows.

I just love what Kwanzaa’s all about! In addition to the pleasure family, friendships and social connections can bring,
studies show that those who isolate actually carry the same increased mortality risks as those who smoke and/or consume excessive alcohol! Moreover, beyond supporting our physical health, belonging to a group or community can add to our sense of identity.

If it were up to the terrorists, we’d all be hiding, insecure, fearful and become non-trusting of everyone and thing. Let’s not let that happen!
We are hard-wired for meaningful connections. It’s what helped our caveman ancestors to survive and thrive and not much has changed since. Therefore, getting connected, staying connected and giving back to our respective communities is a lesson well-learned during this Joyous Kwanzaa season!