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December 26, 2006 > Days of reflection

Days of reflection

by Lance Dwyer

For many Afro-Americans, the week between December 26 and January 1 has special meaning. The community is invited to take part in this time of self-reflection focused on faith, unity and creativity known as "Kwanzaa."  Kwanzaa is an American creation to celebrate traditional African values; the word "kwanza" means "first" in Swahili, and can be found in the phrase "matunda ya kwanza" or "first fruit." Kwanzaa is the Afro-American adaptation of the traditional African kwanza celebration, distinguished by the slight variation in their spelling.

Kwanzaa was created to build a rich non-religious cultural tradition during the winter holiday months, not as a replacement for other traditions. A recurring structure of the observance is found in groups of seven. In addition to the duration of the holiday, the celebration highlights seven symbols and seven principles.

The seven symbols of Kwanzaa festivities are: Mazao, the fruit and vegetables of the harvest that are part of the celebration table; Mkeka, the placemat on which they are arranged; Kinara, the seven branched candlestick that hold the red, black, and green candles; Mishumaa saba, that are lighted each evening; Muhindi, the ears of corn which represent each child at home; Kikombe cha umoja, the communal chalice from which the ceremonial libation is poured; and Zawadi, the gifts.

Kwanzaa calls for celebrants to embark on a journey of self-examination in order to become stronger individually and as a community. In order to fully explore the human spirit and breadth of creative endeavor, Kwanzaa embraces seven principles: unity (Umoja), self-determination (Kujichagulia), collective works and responsibility (Ujima), cooperative economics (Ujamaa), purpose; (Nia), creativity (Kuumba) and faith (Imani).

For those interested in learning more about Kwanzaa and celebrating this joyous and meaningful event, the Afro-American Cultural and Historical Society in partnership with Jack & Jill, will host a free Kwanzaa celebration in Union City on Friday, December 29, 2006.

Kwanzaa Celebration
Friday, December 29
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Holly Community Center
31600 Alvarado Blvd., Union City
Admission: FREE
More information: (510) 489-0689 or (510) 793-8181

 
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