Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday that is spiritual in nature. The Nguzo Saba is a set of unifying principles that give strength and empowerment to the African American Community. The Foundation of the Holiday is built upon the following seven principles.
1. Umoja (Unity) (00-MOE-Jah) – To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race. 2. Kujichagalia (Self-Determination) -To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves. 3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) – To build and maintain our community together and to make our brothers and sisters problems our problem s and to solve them together. 4. Ujammaa (Cooperative Economics) – To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other business and to profit together from them. 5. Nia (Purpose) – To make as our collective vocation the building and developing our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. 6. Kuumba (creativity)- To do always as much as we can in the way that we can , in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial then when we inherited it. 7. Imani ( Faith)- To believe with all our hearts in our parents, our teachers, our leaders, people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
These principles are not only meant to be celebrated but to be a way of life for African Americans. Principles can be incorporated into everyday living by focusing on the meaning and extrapolating from the principals that which is meaningful to you, in order to use and build upon them within your own family. With that being said, the Nguzo Saba may only have one principle that is meaningful to you, if that is the case then that principle should be your guiding force and strength when you are reaffirming and reassessing where you fit within the community. As we grow and mature we take on new ideals and philosophy, however, at the core of all human beings should be the essences of what drives you, what makes you happy, what serves your needs and yes wants, but ultimately it should be a principle that is followed so that the mind and heart can be focused on any one of the principles.
As we continue to marvel about the sojourn of the African American peoples in this Diaspora, I am amazingly blessed to know that our collective vocation and our oneness with our creator is that of hope and continued greatness!
It takes a collective and consorted effort to raise strong, independent-minded young African Americans to continue to strive for greatness and to never, never give up on one’s self or others, that is the true meaning on how we as a community can embrace the seven principles of the Nguzo Saba. Habri Gani!
Kwanzaa 2013 begins on Thursday, Dec. 26, and ends on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014.
–Ayanna C.Crawford, M.Ed, Kwanzaa consultant