OUR COMMON GROUND           with Janice Graham

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Celebrating Kwanzaa

There is a traditionally established way of celebrating Kwanzaa. We should therefore observe these guidelines to make our Kwanzaa the most beautiful and engaging one and to keep the tradition. Without definite guidelines and core values and practices there is no holiday. Kikombe cha Umoja - The Unity Cup

First, you should come to the celebration with a profound respect for its values, symbols and practices and do nothing to violate its integrity, beauty and expansive meaning. Secondly, you should not mix the Kwanzaa holiday or its symbols, values and practice with any other culture. This would violate the principles of Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) and thus violate the integrity of the holiday.

Thirdly, choose the best and most beautiful items to celebrate Kwanzaa. This means taking time to plan and select the most beautiful objects of art, colorful African cloth, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. so that every object used represents African culture and your commitment to the holiday in the best of ways.

THE KWANZAA FEAST OR KARAMU The Kwanzaa Karumu is traditionally held on December 31st (participants celebrating New Year's Eve, should plan their Karamu early in the evening). It is a very special event as it is the one Kwanzaa event that brings us closer to our African roots. The Karamu is a communal and cooperative effort. Ceremonies and cultural expressions are highly encouraged. It is important to decorate the place where the Karamu will be held, (e.g., home, community center, church) in an African motif that utilizes black, red, and green color scheme. A large Kwanzaa setting should dominate the room where the karamu will take place. A large Mkeka should be placed in the center of the floor where the food should be placed creatively and made accessible to all for self-service. Prior to and during the feast, an informative and entertaining program should be presented. Traditionally, the program involved welcoming, remembering, reassessment, recommitment and rejoicing, concluded by a farewell statement and a call for greater unity.

Below is a suggested format for the Karamu program, from a model by Dr. Karenga.

Kukaribisha (Welcoming)
Introductory Remarks and Recognition of Distinguished Guests and All Elders.
Cultural Expression (Songs, Music, Group Dancing, Poetry, Performances, Unity Circles)

Kuumba (Remembering)
Reflections of a Man, Woman and Child.
Cultural Expression

Kuchunguza Tena Na Kutoa Ahadi Tena (Reassessment and Recommitment)

Introduction of Distinguished Guest Lecturer and Short Talk.

Kushangilla (Rejoicing)

Tamshi la Tambiko (Libation Statement)
It is tradition to pour libation in remembrance of the ancestors on all special occasions.
Kwanzaa, is such an occasion, as it provides
us an opportunity to reflect on our African past and American present. Water is suggested as it
holds the essence of life and should be placed
in a communal cup and poured in the direction
of the four winds; north, south, east, and west.
It should then be passed among family members
and guests who may either sip from
the cup or make a sipping gesture.

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 for 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.
. Kikombe Cha Umoja (Unity Cup)
Kutoa Majina (Calling Names of Family Ancestors and Black Heroes)
Ngoma (Drums)
Karamu (Feast)

Tamshi la Tutaonana (The Farewell Statement)

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