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'Habari Gani?' The answer is, 'Umoja' on this first night of Kwanzaa

By Black Headline News

On this first day of Kwanzaa when asked,"Habari Gani," meaning, "what's the news?" then one should answer back with the "The Nguzo Saba" of the day. Thus the first day being "umoja" meaning, unity would be the proper response.

Created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday that celebrates history, values, family, community and culture. The ideas and concepts of Kwanzaa are expressed in the Swahili language, one of the most widely spoken languages in Africa. The reflection celebration begins December 26 and ends on the first day of the new year, January 1.

Kwanzaa gets its name from the Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza” and is rooted in first fruit celebrations which are found in cultures throughout Africa both in ancient and modern times.

During the week of Kwanzaa, families and communities come together to share a feast, to honor the ancestors, affirm the bonds between them, and to celebrate African and African American culture based on the seven principles, The Nguzo Saba (Swahili for Seven Principles.) The Nguzo Saba were originally developed to reinforce aspects of African cultures which contribute to building and supporting family, community and heritage among persons of African descent. These seven principles are: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Each day they light a candle to highlight the principle of that day and to breathe meaning into the principles with various activities, such as reciting the sayings or writings of great black thinkers and writers, reciting original poetry, African drumming, and sharing a meal of African diaspora-inspired foods.

The table is decorated with the essential symbols of Kwanzaa, such as the Kinara (Candle Holder), Mkeka (Mat), Muhindi (corn to represent the children), Mazao (fruit to represent the harvest), and Zawadi (gifts). One might also see the colors of the Pan-African flag, red (the struggle), black (the people), and green (the future), represented throughout the space and in the clothing worn by participants. These colors were first proclaimed to be the colors for all people of the African diaspora by the late, Marcus Garvey.

On December 31, the sixth day of Kwanzaa, there is a large feast called Karamu. Just like other Kwanzaa meals, any dish can be included as part of the Karamu.

Zawadi, or gifts are shared on the final day of Kwanzaa; zawadis are often handmade gifts or are Black historical books or literature shared to inform the next generation. They are intended to symbolize and encourage growth and success


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