Dec. 26: 2023 Kwanzaa Celebration featuring drum healing circle

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MANCHESTER, NHNH Black Women Health Project this year co-hosts 2023 Kwanzaa Celebration UMOJA~Unity Tuesday, December 26, 2023, at the YWCA 72 Concord Street, Downtown Manchester NH, 5-8 p.m.

Join us as we hear Kwanzaa principles presentations from the New England Chapter of N’COBRA, Manchester NAACP and Spark The Dream.

Experience the Healing Drums from Brother Theo Martey of Akwaaba Ensemble.

Screenshot 2023 12 16 at 10.13.02 AMAbout Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a non-religious holiday observed globally from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. It can be celebrated by anyone of any race who’s looking to connect with African teachings. Kwanzaa is Swahili for “first fruits,” a literal celebration of agricultural bounty and a metaphor for a prosperous life. The holiday lasts over seven days because it’s centered around seven principles, which follow:

1. Umoja (Unity)

On the first day of Kwanzaa, members of the African-American community focus on the principle of umoja (pronounced “oo-MOH-juh”). This principle emphasizes the importance of unity in all areas, including family, community, nation, and race.

You light the center black candle in dedication to umoja on day one.

2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

The second principle of Kwanzaa is kujichagulia (pronounced “koo-jee-CHA-goo-LEE-ah”), or “self-determination.” Its focus is building your identity as a person and a community, both historically and in the present day, by asking the question, “Who am I?” Kujichagulia also encourages the question, “Am I all that I ought to be?”

Traditionally, you light the first red candle to the immediate left of the black candle. Note that, although the black candle is always first, the order and color of the other candles will vary based on household traditions and personal choice.

3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

Ujima (pronounced “oo-JEE-mah”) focuses on the collective responsibility for both achievements and setbacks in the community. This principle reminds celebrants that building each other up is the best way to truly solve problems.

On the third day, you light the first green candle to the immediate right of the black candle.

4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

Ujamaa (pronounced “oo-JAH-maa”) is the principle of cooperative economics. This goes beyond the mass spending associated with the holiday season. Ujamaa focuses on a concerted effort to pool resources (financial and otherwise) together to benefit Black communities and neighborhoods and essentially build a more communal sense of “profit.”

On the fourth day, you light the second red candle.

5. Nia (Purpose)

Nia (pronounced “NEE-ah”), which means “purpose,” is the fifth principle of Kwanzaa. Nia can refer to being proactive in setting your own personal goals, but it also encourages you to think outward and look at goals that can benefit the larger community. It can mean purpose for your own future, the financial purpose of your family, or the collective purpose of your economic community.

To commemorate nia, you light the second green candle on the fifth day.

6. Kuumba (Creativity)

Kuumba (pronounced “ko-OOM-bah”) is the principle of creativity. This can, of course, refer to individual creativity, but the focus is on improving and bringing beauty to your community through that creativity, whether it’s art, dance, music, or literature.

You light the last red candle for kuumba.

7. Imani (Faith)

On January 1st, the final day of Kwanzaa, celebrants light the last green candle for the principle of imani (pronounced “ee-MAH-nee”). Imani translates to “faith.” Remember that Kwanzaa is a non-religious celebration, but faith here refers to the family and community traditions as a spiritual center. It is a belief in community leaders, teachers, and loved ones, past and present.


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