Message from the Chairman
Across the Atlanta metro area, plans are set to honor African American families, culture and community as the Kwanzaa holiday arrives December 26th . Traditionally, the seven-day celebration, founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, includes practices such as a candle-lighting ceremony, a feast, reflections, gift-giving and observance of the seven principles. Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce the Nguzo Saba (the Seven Principles.) These seven communitarian African values are: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). This stress on the Nguzo Saba was at the same time an emphasis on the importance of African communitarian values in general, which stress family, community and culture and speak to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. And Kwanzaa was conceived as a fundamental and important way to introduce and reinforce these values and cultivate appreciation for them. Additionally inherent in Kwanzaa is five fundamental activities of Continental African “first fruit” celebrations: ingathering; reverence; commemoration; recommitment; and celebration. Kwanzaa, then, is:
1. a time of ingathering of the people to reaffirm the bonds between them
2. a time of special reverence for the creator and creation in thanks and respect for the blessings, bountifulness and beauty of creation
3. a time for commemoration of the past in pursuit of its lessons and in honor of its models of human excellence, our ancestors
4. a time of recommitment to our highest cultural ideals in our ongoing effort to always bring forth the best of African cultural thought and practice
5. a time for celebration of the Good, the good of life and of existence itself, the good of family, community and culture, the good of the awesome and the ordinary, in a word the good of the divine, natural and social
For the past 40 plus years, the Metro-Atlanta Kwanzaa Association has taught Kwanzaa in various formats around Atlanta and surrounding towns and counties across the state. One of our main goals was to demystify misconceptions around Kwanzaa. My favorite people are the people who are skeptical about Kwanzaa because it’s like a challenge for them. Misconceptions you hear most often are that Kwanzaa isn’t a real holiday because it hasn’t been around long enough; Kwanzaa has to replace Christmas; Kwanzaa is an African holiday and Kwanzaa is a religious holiday.
The most important thing to remember about Kwanzaa, is that it is a cultural celebration. “Kwanzaa is a time to be unapologetically who you are, to think about how you’re going to honor your ancestors and to think about how you’re going to make your legacy on the world. If you have African American heritage, you can come to Kwanzaa no matter your religion because the principles are universal.”
In the midst of protests and outcries to protect black lives amongst the millennial generation, the Metro-Atlanta Kwanzaa Association and the Shrine of the Black Madonna are hosting 2014 City-Wide Kwanzaa Umoja Celebration, Dec. 26 at the Shrine of the Black Madonna. The event will cater to young and old community members who may not be familiar with the holiday. There will be keynote speakers, several cultural performances, a community panel discussion, vendors and opportunities for people to ask questions. So they’ll be a little bit of everything for everybody who wants to come in and learn in multiple different ways. We'll use this celebration as a critical opportunity to educate people on some of the social justice and economic issues that go on in our community like the prison industrial complex and mass incarceration, as well as issues around the recent killings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Kendrick Johnson and Tamir Rice.
The Metro-Atlanta Kwanzaa has published the Kwanzaa Resource Guide to: