Kwanzaa Day 6: Kuumba (Creativity)

The 1960’s brought forth a new found awareness of self  strength and empowerment for African Americans. Abandoning negative self-images  and embracing our African past were our first steps toward this new way of  looking at ourselves. Further explorations transpired through traditional  African community concepts, dress and hairstyles. As the desires for ties to an  African past increased, Kwanzaa soon became an ideal forum to further explore  our cultural roots; recognizing the unique heritage of African-Americans as  fruits from both worlds.

Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Dr. Karenga who was a  leading theorist of The Black Movement in the 1960’s. His writing credits are  quite extensive and have appeared in many journals and anthologies. Kwanzaa’s  birth stems from a cultural idea and an expression of the US organization which  Brother Karenga headed. This new way of exploring self has blossomed into the  only nationally celebrated, native, non-religious, non-heroic, non-political  African-American holiday.

The name Kwanzaa is a Kiswahili word for “the first  fruits of the harvest”. Kiswahili was chosen because it is a non-tribal  African language which encompasses a large portion of the African continent. As  an added benefit its pronunciation is rather easy. Vowels are pronounced as  they would be in Spanish and consonants, with few exceptions, as they are in  English. For example: A=ah as in father; E=a as in day; I=ee as in free;O=oo as  in too. One last note, the accent or stress is almost always on the next to  last syllable.

This holiday is observed from December 26th through  January 1st. Again its focus is to pay tribute to the rich cultural roots of  People of the African Diaspora. Though first inspired by African-Americans,  many of African descent celebrate this occasion today.  Its reach has grown to include all whose roots  are in the Motherland.  Its’ concept is  neither religious nor political, but is rooted strongly in a cultural  awareness. This is not a substitute for Christmas; however, gifts may be  exchanged with the principles of Nguzo Saba always in mind. Gifts are given to  reinforce personal growth and achievement which benefits the collective  community.

The principles are:

Umoja (unity) U-MO-JA
Kujicahgulia (self determination) KU-JI-CHA-GU-LIA
Ujima (collective work and responsibility) U-JI-MA
Ujamaa (cooperative economics) U-JA-MA
Nia (purpose) NIA
Kuumba (creativity) KU-UM-BA
Imani (faith) I-MANI

Shay Moore is a radio personality, blogger, community activist, voice-over actress and writer.  Follow Shay on Twitter  Check out her site

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