Kwanzaa, created in 1966, is the modern reincarnation of the African first-fruit harvest celebrations observed from December 26 to January 1. Growing up as an African living in America, I have always felt that sense of homelessness and duality that so many African-American academics write about and discuss. Last year, I decided to create a list of holy days that I felt called to observe and not just blindly celebrate those the government deemed worthy enough to grant official. On that list I wrote Kwanzaa and this is the first year that I have ever celebrated it.
Each night of Kwanzaa my husband and I stood around our hearth (the heart of our home) to discuss the principle of the day. My Mother-in-Law, Mamma Hawk, was gracious enough to allow us to borrow her beautiful kinara. Each night we poured libations from a chalice (ok, we didn’t have a chalice on hand so we used a fancy glass beer mug) into the kitchen sink to acknowledge our ancestors and then took turns drinking from the cup. We then lit the middle candle of the kinara (an ebony candle representing the people), and used it to light that day’s candle and the previous days’candles. Next we discussed how we felt about the principle of the day. Below are the seven principles of Kwanzaa. What are your thoughts?
Umoja = Unity
Kujichagulia = Self-Determination
Ujima = Collective Work & Responsibility
Ujamaa = Cooperative Economics
Nia = Purpose
Kuumba = Creativity
Imani = Faith
It felt good giving thanks to our ancestors every night. It felt as if the part of me that was laying dormant, woke and stretched, yawned deeply and shook herself off. I’m looking forward to performing more rituals in honor of my ancestors.
Eye-and-Eye Mantra: Be the woman you want to be at all times!
Photography by Ajua Hawkins.
Copyright 2012-2014 Ajua Hawkins