On Friday, December 27, I attended a Kwanzaa celebration at the Brickhouse Gallery in my neighborhood.
The celebration included a program with drumming, poetry, a scholarship presentation, a charity collection, and a panel discussion on education in addition to a community potluck.
The evening’s Kwanzaa principle was: Kujichagulia (koo-jee-chah-goo-LEE-ah): Self-Determination, and the panelists speaking on education and the importance of African-American history in that education inspired us to consider what self-determination means.
The panelists came form diverse sectors of the community and worked with young people into the community college years; they had done a lot of exploration of ways to mentor youth to become responsible, thoughtful, and engaged citizens.
One of the panelists specifically referred to how difficult it is to engage volunteers in making sure that our youth receive the education they need. He observed that modern Americans want to receive something tangible in exchange for a donation of time and money. He said his frustration led him to an entrepreneurial endeavor so that he sells soaps and others scents to sustain his educational programs.
I am not sure his assessment of motivation is true for most people, but I know the rewards of giving, though not instantly, surely come in the form of opportunity.
Kwanzaa begins on 12/26 and goes into the new year. There are events each of the seven nights. A Kinara contains the candles; it is similar to a Jewish Menorah.
On the first day of Kwanzaa the black candle is lit in the Kinara. The black candle represents the first principle – Umoja (oo-MOH-jah): Unity.
On the second day the black candle is again lit, as well as the farthest red candle on the left. This represents the 2nd principle of Kwanzaa – Kujichagulia (koo-jee-chah-goo-LEE-ah): Self-Determination.
On the third day the black candle is lit, then the farthest left red, and then the farthest right green candle. This represents the 3rd principle of Kwanzaa – Ujima (oo-JEE-mah): Collective work and responsibility.
On the fourth day the black candle is lit, then the farthest left red, the farthest right green. And then the next red candle on the left. This represents the 4th principle of Kwanzaa – Ujamaa (oo-jah-MAH): Collective economics.
On the fifth day the black candle is lit, then the farthest left red, the farthest right green, the next red and then the next green candle. This represents the 5th principle of Kwanzaa – Nia (NEE-ah): Purpose.
On the sixth day the black candle is lit, then the farthest left red, the farthest right green, the next red, the next green and then the final red candle. This represents the 6th principle of Kwanzaa – Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah): Creativity.
On the seventh day the black candle is lit, then the farthest left red, the farthest right green, the next red candle, the next green, the final red, and then the final green candle. This represents the 7th principle of Kwanzaa – Imani (ee-MAH-nee): Faith.