Aunt Louise and Uncle Bob – Kwanzaa

Dear Uncle Bob and Aunt Louise: I am hearing about a holiday called Kwanzaa that is coming up soon in December and I have never heard of it before. I reached out to my very own uncle and aunt back in my country to ask them about this because they traveled to the US in the early 1960s. They told me they never heard of a holiday called Kwanzaa! How can this be? What is Kwanzaa?

Aunt Louise replies: That seems pretty mysterious, doesn’t it? How could your aunt and uncle possibly miss a holiday during their time in the US? The mystery is solved when you learn Kwanzaa is a created holiday for celebrating family and culture within the African and African American community. And it only in 1966 that this holiday, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana Studies, came to be. This seven-day cultural festival takes place from December 26 through January 1 each year, with families and communities coming together for events that reflect the Seven Principles (called the Nguzo Saba).

Uncle Bob replies: Louise, I always knew I married a smart woman! Tell me more about those Seven Principles.

Aunt Louise: Bob, dear, marrying me made you a smart man. The Seven Principles are…

  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)

On Imani everyone must ask themselves: who am I, am I really who I am and am I all I ought to be? This is a beautiful idea that speaks not only to Africans but to all people concerned with reaffirming family, community and culture, and in realizing that essential meaning and purpose of human life, to bring good into the world.

Uncle Bob: That message is downright lovely. And I bet the celebrations themselves are lovely as well.

Aunt Louise: Indeed, my dear. Colorful clothes and art, fresh fruits, drumming and music, candle-lighting, artistic performances, sharing beverages, and of course a feast. All of this makes for a “Joyous Kwanzaa” which is the holiday greeting.

Uncle Bob: I am glad that one of the international students asked us this. Not only did I learn something, I think I’ve missed out. Now that “bucket lists” have become popular, I am adding a Kwanzaa celebration to mine. Maybe one of our readers (or “followers,” as they say) will invite us to celebrate with them.

Aunt Louise: That would be lovely.

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