Kwanzaa is a family
affair and seeks to reinforce the bonds between parents and children,
and to teach parents and children new views and values that will aid
them in self-consciousness and providing support and defense for our
people. Therefore, Kwanzaa is the time when Black Americans get together
to give thanks, and to enjoy the blessings of living and acting together
as a family.
- The following
schedule should be used in preparing your family to participate in
the Kwanzaa celebration.
12 - Begin to schedule meetings with family members to assign
tasks for the Kwanzaa Celebration.
19 - Gather and arrange Kwanzaa symbols and any other decorations.
Arrange the symbols on a low table or on the floor.
the Mkeka (Straw Mat).
the Kinara (Candle Holder) in the center of the Mkeka.
the Muhindi (Ears of Corn) on either side of the Mkeka. One
ear of corn for each child in the family.
place the Zawadi (Gifts), Kikombe Cha Umoja (Unity Cup); Tambiko
(Water and Soil), and a basket of Mazao fruit on the Mkeka.
up a Bendera Ya Taifa (Flag of the Black Nation). It should
be facing the East.
Mishumaa Saba (Seven Candles) in the Kinara. Remember the
Mishumaa should be red, black and green. Use any creative
match you desire.
- Three Red; Three Green; One Black; Two Red; Two Green;
- Begin using
the greeting "Habari Gani" and the response "Nzuri Kwanzaa, Nguzo
Saba". Note, the response changes on the first day of Kwanzaa
to Umoja, on the second day to Kujichagulia, etc.
- A week
of fasting, from sunrise to sunset, to cleanse the body, discipline
the mind and uplift the spirit is suggested.
- On the first
day of Kwanzaa (December 26) the Mtume (leader or minister) calls
the family together. When everyone is present, the Mtume greets them;
Habari Gani, and the family responds Umoja. THus the Kwanzaa celebration
has begun. The celebration is conducted in the following order, substituting
each principle for the response on its respective day.
- A prayer
is offered by a member of the family (all standing).
(Let's Pull Together) is a call for unity and collective work
and struggle of the family.
member raises up the right arm with open hand and while pulling
down, closes the hand into a fist.
is done in sets of seven in honor and reinforcement of the
- The Kwanzaa
Song can be used at this time.
- The Mtume
briefly talks about the concept of Kwanzaa, using the theme or
focus of Kwanzaa as a sense of direction.
- The Tambiko
(Libation) is performed by an elder. The elder should pour the
libation using juice or water from the Tambiko set up in honor
of our ancestors.
should be done by the family member (preferably a youth) assigned
the lighting of Mshumaa (candle).
Ceremony is performed by the Youth. The Youth should light the
Mshumaa (candle) for the principle of the day (i.e. Umoja (Unity)
on the first day of Kwanzaa). After the lighting, the principle
of the day should be discussed by every member participating in
the ceremony. The discussion should focus on each member's understanding
of the principle and their commitment and responsibility to practice
that principle for the betterment of self, family and Black people..
- A story,
song or an object that is reflective of the principle for the
day (i.e. Umoja (Unity) - Black Frying Pan) and a Scripture reading
related to the principle is essential in reinforcing the meaning
of that principle.
- Share Zawadi
(Gifts). In Kwanzaa gifts are played down and spiritual and social
rejuvenation is played up. Hand made gifts are strongly encouraged
over commercial purchases. Items related to the Black heritage
or items that have a special meaning that will help the person
through the next year are strongly recommended. The gifts should
be reflective of a commitment to education and the riches of our
cultural heritage and a sign of the struggle for liberation for
Black people. The gifts can be fruits shared each night by members.
The gifts can be given to the children in one of two ways:
gift can be given each day to reinforce the principle for
that day, or
- On December
31st. during the Karamu (Feast), all gifts can be given.
- Karamu (Feast)
is held on the night of December 31st. and includes food, music, dance,
- The Kwanzaa
Song can be repeated as often as is wished for elevation of the spirits.
is a holiday
Is an African
days for the African
YENU IWE NA HERI