The other day on Tuesday, December 8th I went to a Kwanzaa celebration hosted by Ball State in the cardinal hall at the student center. The event was presented by Ball States Multicultural Center and Friends of Conley. This event was a way for the Multicultural center to explain and show people how and what Kwanzaa is. So first I am going to start by sharing what Kwanzaa is and how it was created.
According to officialkwanzaawebsite.org Kwanzaa is “an African American and Pan-American holiday which celebrates family, community and culture.”
Origins of Kwanzaa:
Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th through January 1st every year. it was first celebrated in 1966 and was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach (History).
Kwanzaa origins are from the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it gets its name from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili.
At this event we talked about the symbolic lighting of the Kinara which consists of seven candles. The seven candles coincide with the seven guiding principles.
The Seven Guiding Principles:
- UMOJA (oo-MO-jah) or Unity
- Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-lee-yah) or Self-Determination
- UJIMA (oo-GEE-mah) or Collective Work and Responsibility
- UJAMMA (00-JAH-mah) or Cooperative Economics
- NIA ( NEE-yah) or Purpose
- KUUMBA (koo-OOM-bah) or Creativity
- IMANI (ee-MAH-nee) or Faith
They also presented on the Seven Symbols which are:
1. MKEKA (M-KAY-CUH) or Mat
2. MAZAO (MAH-ZOW) or Crops
3. KINARA (KEE-NAR-RAH) or Candle holder
4. MISHUMAA ( ME-SHOO-MAH) or Seven Candles
5. MUHINDI (MOO-HEEN-DEE) or Corn
6. KIKOMBE CHA UMOJA (KEY-COMB-BAY) or Unity Cup
7. ZAWADI ( SAH-WAH-DEE) or Gifts
The event was very simple and relaxed. They had a small band of drums playing some music before and after the ceremony. The students that helped present on Kwanzaa had someone present a poem that they had written as well as the Antioch Baptist Church Youth Ministry. The kids danced to a song during the celebration. It seemed to be a very emotional moment during the ceremony. The environment was very friendly and open, some people even yelled out “amen” or “hallelujah” and everyone would say hello to the speakers when they went up to talk.
At the end of the event they had a pastor come up and give a little prayer before dismissing everyone to get food. As they let people go to get food the band started to play again and they wanted you to be social. They had some papers at the table with some word scrambles, and some easy questions about Kwanza and how it was created/ what it is about. As well as some questions about how the ceremony was for everyone and what they thought about it. I feel like that was a very nice touch on top of the ceremony. But as we can back to our seats they invited us to get to know the people around us and maybe discuss what we had learned today and talk about what we thought about it.
Overall the event was very informative and is a good way for people to learn about a new religion that they may not know much about. Or learn more about their own religion. I would definitely recommend an event like this to other people.
“Kwanzaa.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.
“The Official Kwanzaa Web Site – Kwanzaa African American Celebration of Family, Community and Culture by Maulana Karenga.” The Official Kwanzaa Web Site – Kwanzaa African American Celebration of Family, Community and Culture by Maulana Karenga. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.