50th Anniversary of Kwanzaa
By Victoria Gourdin
For those who celebrate it, Kwanzaa is a Pan-African holiday recognized by millions throughout the world and African community. It gives a different cultural message to a community surrounded by only Christianity’s version of the season. It teaches what it means to be African and human at the same time. The holiday depicts the best of African thought and practices confirming the self-worth of family, community, and the human themselves. While it reinforces the importance of the human life, it also stresses the significance of the human relationship with the environment.
It begins on the 26th of December and lasts through January 1st. There are five shared values that are important to the week. They include ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment and finally, celebration. There are also seven principles that utilize the words unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
Each of the seven candles in the Kinara, or candle holder, are representatives of the seven principles. The colors of Kwanzaa and of the candles are black, red and green. Black is for the people, red is for their struggle and green is for the future and the hope that comes from the struggle.
There are three red candles, one black, and 3 green. There are also many different symbols of Kwanzaa. Crops which represent historical roots, the mat which is the basis of self-growth, the Kinara which reminds believers of their ancestral origins and corn which represent the children and the hope that comes from the younger generations. Gifts represent the obligations of the parents for their children and the unity cup is used to pour drink offerings to the ancestors.
On the 31st of December, gifts are exchanged and those who choose to participate celebrate with a banquet of food, generally from many different African countries. This year is the 50th Anniversary of the Pan-African holiday and people throughout the world are celebrating together. It is bringing together people from many different walks of life. Even if Christmas is the holiday that seems to take over the month of December, the Anniversary of Kwanzaa has put a grand spotlight on the holiday.