By Basee

Information on the rituals of Kwanzaa. The principles are available as a separate article on the website for those who would like to revisit them.

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 past present and future. 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 sip from the cup. At the end of each statement repeat the principle of the day. Ie Nia or a word of agreement of your choice. This could be a word from your own language reflecting your family. The statement too could be spoken in your mother tongue.

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.

The following steps are a guide…

Step One
Gather the 7 Kwanzaa symbols: KINARA, a candle holder with space for 7 candles; MKEKA, a placemat, preferably made of straw; MAZAO, fruits and vegetables to represent harvested crops; MUHINDI, ears of corn, 1 for each child in the family; KIKOMBE CHA UMOJA, a communal cup to symbolize unity; MISHUMAA SABA, 7 candles (1 black, 3 red and 3 green); and ZAWADI, educational or culturally enriching gifts, exchanged only among parents and children.

Step Two
Spread the mkeka on a low table or on the floor.

Step Three
Place the kinara in the center of the mkeka and add the mishumaa saba. Place a black candle in the center of the candelabrum, 3 red candles on the left side of the candelabrum and 3 green candles on the right side of the candelabrum.

Step Four
Arrange the muhindi on either side of the mkeka.

Step Five
Distribute the zawadi, kikombe cha umoja, and a basket of mazao on the mkeka.

Step Six
Hang a Bendera (flag of the Black Nation) facing east, and decorate the room with trimmings of your choice in black, red and green.

Step Seven
Light a new candle on the kinara every day and discuss one of the 7 guiding principles of Kwanzaa.

Step Eight
Hold a KARAMU, which is a Kwanzaa feast, on December 31.

Step Nine
Exchange ZAWADI (gifts) on January 1.

For the most meaningful Kwanzaa celebration, remember the sixth principle, Kuumba, and make the decorations and the zawadi yourself. If you lack the time to make your own zawadi, good store-bought choices include books, art supplies and musical instruments.

Keep in mind that each family has its own personal way of observing Kwanzaa.

This is a very brief overview… Kwanzaa is not a replacement or substitute for any other festival or celebration but a celebration of its own. I hope this information is useful or at least interesting. If you fancy giving it a go but don’t have the equipment… be creative, use what you do have… you can always collect the bits during the year for next year… for more information

Family… immediate, nuclear, extended, reconstituted… Personal, community, societal, global… take it where you will!

About BaseeSaka

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Having experienced most relationship issues, from dating, cohabiting and parting ways, to long distance relationship, ‘near misses’ and heartbreak; I feel that my years have been filled experiences. Experiences that I am inclined to describe as positive. You can email her at: