December 27th – the Nguzo Saba principle of the day is Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-lee-yah), which means Self-Determination.

To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves. Requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.

Today, the innermost red candle is lit.

After an impromptu completely rhythmless family drum circle (we were enjoying the gifts from last year’s music themed Kwanzaa and the boys were still wound up from yesterday’s drummers and dancers), we discussed today’s principle. The importance of education, of having a plan, and supporting one another.

We read from a collection of African-American children’s stories, a story entitled “The Gift and the Giver” and opened our gift, a children’s book on Kwanzaa (“The Story of Kwanzaa”).

Kwanzaa question of the day: What do some of the terms mean?
Answer: Kwanzaa means “first fruits of harvest” in Swahili. The Ngozu Saba are the Seven Principles developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga when he came up with Kwanzaa. The candles (the mishumaa saba) are the colors of Kwanzaa: black (for the people), red (for the blood shed during their struggle), and green (for the land and the future hope that comes from the struggle). The candleholder is called a kinara, which sits on a straw mat called a mkeka. Beside them rests ears of corn for each child in the household (the vibunzi or muhindi). A basket filled with fruits (the matunda or mazao) represents the gathering in of the crops/harvests. The gifts given during Kwanzaa, which should be hand made or culturally centered, are called the zawadi. The unity cup (the kikombe cha umoja), from which the libation (tambiko) is taken, also sits on the mkeka.

Libation Statement:
For the Motherland, cradle of civilization.
For the ancestors and their indomitable spirit.
For the elders, from whom we can learn much.
For our youth, who represent the promise of tomorrow.
For our people, the original people.
For our struggle and in remembrance of those who have struggled on our behalf.
For Umoja, the principle of unity which should guide us in all that we do.
For the Creator, who provides all things great and small.

Harambee, Harambee, Harambee, Harambee, Harambee, Harambee, Harambee*

*Swahili for “Let’s all pull together” – We use the track from the Sounds of Blackness’ The Evolution of Gospel.