This year makes the eight year I’ve celebrated Kwanzaa with my family. I hadn’t even heard of it before then. However, my husband’s family have been hosting annual Kwanzaa dinners since the early 90s. I still remember the first time he invited me to celebrate Kwanzaa. We were newly engaged and this would be the second family function I attended. Honestly, I was a little reluctant about going. I had no idea what to expect. Fast forward today and I can’t imagine my life without Kwanzaa. The mister and I have even hosted a couple of Kwanzaa dinners at our home. Which makes us feel like real grown ups because we can say we hosts dinner parties.
One of my favorite things about Kwanzaa is it is not overly commercialized. Any gifts exchanged are to be handmade. There are no expensive decorations. Kwanzaa is a non-religious celebration, so you don’t have to worry about offending someone’s faith. I also love that Kwanzaa is Afrocentric centered. So much of my family’s history was lost due to centuries of slavery followed by decades of oppression. However, Kwanzaa provides a small way to reconnect with our lost African heritage and values.
The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa
The seven principles of Kwanzaa resonates with me on a deep level. The principles of Kwanzaa are:
- Umoja (Unity)
- Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
- Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility)
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
- Nia (Purpose)
- Kuumba (Creativity)
- Imani (Faith).
Although Kwanzaa only last for 7 days, these principles can be applied everyday of the year. My favorite principle is Kuumba. If you’re a regular reader of Becoming FAB, and you should be, you know I belief creativity plays an essential role in our happiness and well-being. Kuumba, meaning creativity, refers to striving to do as much as we can in an effort to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it. I think this is something everyone can relate and contribute to. Which is why I believe it is so important to unleash your creative potential to the world but the way have you downloaded my free guide, Creative Potential.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Kuumba – doing as much as you can to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial ” quote=”Kuumba – doing as much as you can to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial”]
How many times have you been asked the “tell me a little about yourself” question? Generally we hear this question in job interviews or the first day of class but almost any group will ask you to introduce yourself. I’m a member of at least 10 Facebook groups and each one has a introduction thread. Kujichagulia calls attention to how we define, create, and speak for ourselves. Self-determination greatly shapes our lifestyle and experiences because it tells people how we want to be treated and what we stand for.
U-N-I-T-Y, who remembers that song from the 90s?
Umoja refers to the unity we work to maintain within our family, communities, and nation. Unity is important because through it we can bring about change and growth. Think about the unity (or lack there of) in the different groups you belong to, whether it’s your co-workers, friends, or family and how it impacts the tones of the group.
Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. – Bondei Proverb
There’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?
No seriously, who are you going to call when you have a problem and you can’t find a solution on your own? We all have pride and sometimes asking for help can make you feel small. Especially, if you live in a society where individualism is praised. Ujima refers to how we build and maintain our community together and work collectively to develop solutions to problems. I’ll give you a real life example, the mister and I have rental property that brings in a little semi-passive income. About a year into being landlords, the heating element on the dryer in our unit went out. Let me be clear, we have zero knowledge on how dryers work. It wasn’t until this experience that I even knew heating elements was a thing. We were prepared to buy another dryer, which would have cost hundreds of dollars, when my dad offered to take a look at it. Within an hour and about $40 he had the dryer working like new. Saving us major bucks and teaching us a new skill. Moral to this story… when we work together and help one another, we go further in life.
Ujamaa refers to building and maintaining our own business and to profit together. Traditionally, this principle focused on the development and maintenance of Black owned business. However, to a handmade business owner, it can also mean to shop at other handmade businesses. It could also refer to shopping within your own community, instead of shopping outside your community. This is a principle I need to work on more. I admit to being a religious user of Amazon. I rarely shop in stores anymore, blame it on my Prime membership.
Who or what do you have faith in? If you would have asked me this question ten years ago, I would have said myself. I spent the greater part of my twenties working on my trust issues. But as I grew older I realized that I would have to have faith in others if I wanted to make it in this world. The principle Imani speaks on having faith in our people, parents, teachers, leaders, and the victory of our struggle.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Faith does not make things easy it makes them possible. ” quote=”Faith does not make things easy it makes them possible. “]
I’m the type that can get easily distracted by stuff so naturally a cluttered spaces results in a very unproductive day. This year I began my journey to minimalism and one of the key element is purpose. Basically, you live without stuff that doesn’t serve a purpose. Nia focuses on making an purposeful and intentional effort to rebuild our community to restore our people to their traditional greatness. How does this relate to minimalism? I believe we are constantly presented with crap that clutters and corrupts our minds and hearts. Don’t believe me, think of the last celebrity reality show you watched and how it impacted your outlook on the world.
My Challenge To You
Think of 1 way you will use one (or all) of the principles of Kwanzaa in your everyday routine? For example, I rely heavily on Kuumba, the principle of creativity in my personal life by keeping an art journal. I also incorporate the principle of creativity in my profession life by using creative techniques and interventions with my clients during counseling and coaching sessions.
Saegan Michelle Anderson says
umoja! i will try to use this at work
Never celebrated Kwanzaa but love the principles of it
Debbie Snell says
I havent heard of kwanzaa before. But it sounds amazing 🙂