Monday Children’s Book Reviews for December 26, 2011

Kwanzaa, a non-religious African-American celebration of cultural reaffirmation, is a seven-day celebration that begins on Dec. 26 and continues through Jan. 1.

Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits of the harvest” in the African language Kiswahili, has gained tremendous acceptance since its founding in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, and is based on Nguzo Saba (seven guiding principles), one for each day of the observance:

  • Umoja (OO-MO-JAH) Unity – the importance of family and  community
  • Kujichagulia (KOO-GEE-CHA-GOO-LEE-YAH) Self-Determination – the best interests of our family and community
  • Ujima (OO-GEE-MAH) Collective Work and Responsibility -our role in the community, society, and world
  • Ujamaa (OO-JAH-MAH) Cooperative economics – common needs through mutual support
  • Nia (NEE-YAH) Purpose – set personal goals that are beneficial to the community
  • Kuumba (KOO-OOM-BAH) Creativity – using our creative energies for a strong and vibrant community
  • Imani (EE-MAH-NEE) Faith – focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind  []

There are many symbols of Kwanzaa. The Kwanzaa candelabra is called a kinara. The straw mat that the kinara is placed on is a mkeka. Ears of corn are also placed on the mat, one to represent each child in the household. They are called the vibunzi (or muhindi). A fruit basket is placed on the mkeka, and is called the mazao. The unity cup is also placed on the mkeka, and is called the kikombe cha umoja. The seven candles that are placed in the kinara are called the Mishumaa Saba. Finally, all the gifts are called the zawadi and are traditionally given on Imani – the last day of Kwanzaa.


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Filed under Book Reviews, Children, Events, Reading, Uncategorized, Union City Library

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