By James L. Stroud, Jr.
On December 14 the We Win Institute held its annual Kwanzaa celebration. This year it was observed at the Capri Theater in North Minneapolis.
The celebration included live entertainment by the We Win Institute students and others, as well as a special treat for those who love storytellers. Nothando Zulu, who has been performing for children and adults in Minnesota for more than 20 years and nationally for more than 15 years, entertained the audience with a little help from the children.
What is Kwanzaa? It is an African American celebration traditionally observed from December 26 to January 1. During this time people reflect on the seven principles of Kwanzaa and recommit themselves to the collective achievements of a better way of life for their families and communities; share their knowledge of their ancestral history and culture; and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The foundation of Kwanzaa is the Seven Principles, or Nguzo Saba. (Nguzo Saba is Kiswahili for Seven Principles.) When Dr. Karenga created the celebration of Kwanzaa, he wanted to reflect the best qualities and characteristics of the “first fruit” or harvest festivals that were celebrated throughout Africa. It was these qualities that established the Nguzo Saba.
The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa are:
1) Umoja (oo-MOH-jah): Unity. Success starts with Unity — unity of family, community, nation and race.
2) Kujichagulia (koo-jee-chah-goo-LEE-ah): Self-Determination. To be responsible for ourselves. To create our own destiny.
3) Ujima (oo-JEE-mah): Collective work and responsibility. To build and maintain our community together. To work together to help one another within our community.
4) Ujamaa (oo-jah-MAH): Collective economics. To build, maintain and support our own stores, establishments and businesses.
5) Nia (NEE-ah): Purpose. To restore African American people to their traditional greatness. To be responsible to Those Who Came Before (our ancestors) and to Those Who Will Follow (our descendants).
6) Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah): Creativity. Using creativity and imagination to make our communities better than what we inherited.
7) Imani (ee-MAH-nee): Faith. Believing in our people, our families, our educators, our leaders, and the righteousness of the African American struggle.
We Win Institute, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the academic and social success of all children. Titilayo Bediako, who also serves as the executive director, founded the We Win Institute in 1995 and began programming in 1996.
James L. Stroud, Jr. welcomes reader responses to jl [email protected]