Kwanzaa: Harvest of first fruits


ST. PETERSBURG — “Matunda ya kwanza” means “first fruits” in Swahili and forms the foundation that Dr. Maulana Karenga used to establish Kwanzaa in 1966 after the devastation of the Watts Riots in Los Angeles.

Kwanzaa, a celebration of several different first fruits harvests such as the ones by the Ashanti and Zulu in Africa, was Karenga’s cultural answer to uniting a community torn apart by the social anguish of bigotry and oppression.

Today Kwanzaa is celebrated by African Americans for seven days, each day representing a principle of Kwanzaa, immediately after Christmas across North America.

More than 50 men, women, and children came out to celebrate Imani, or Faith, on the last day of Kwanzaa at the Enoch Davis Center last Thursday evening. The last day of the Kwanzaa Celebration culminated a weeklong observance.

Brother Kiambu reminded all who came out that the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa were established to help the African-American community unite as one body and celebrate achievements, and if need be, collectively and intelligently fight back and show that we are not anyone’s stepping stool.

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa – a cultural blueprint for success – are Umoja (UNITY), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).

Brother Kevin John’s family hosted a lively, stimulating discussion on Collective Work and Responsibility Sun., Dec. 28. However, one of the major highlights this year occurred Wed., Dec 31 when the Principle of Creativity was hosted by the Federation of Families of Pinellas.

The staff brought together youth from all over the area to showcase their talents and gifts in drumming buckets provided by Brother Shabazz, dancing of all forms and performing musical selections.

The spiritual element of Kwanzaa emerged as each candle representing a principle was lit followed by speakers giving examples of the principles in practice. The youth established the worth of their presence again in playing musical instruments and the recital of a poem by Aaliyah Buchanan.

Brother Kiambu anchored the event by reviewing the history, the Seven Principles, and the Seven Symbols of Kwanzaa. The 2015 Kwanzaa Celebration culminated with the African Feast called the Karamu (the big meal).

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