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Habari gani?

My name is Nerd Girl and I celebrate Kwanzaa. 

My parents were very, very, very, (insert another very) into the black power movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s as evidenced by their: changing their Anglo names to African ones, naming all of their children very African names, and adopting Kwanzaa as a holiday to be celebrated every year.

For as long as I can remember on December 26 my mother has pulled out the mkeka (mat), kinara (candle holder) and kikombe cha umoja (unity cup) to decorate our table and herald the beginning of Kwanzaa.

When I was younger, I was quite embarassed by the fact that we celebrated Kwanzaa.  It was weird, different and definitely not celebrated by the majority of my friends or their parents.  Yet there we six were driving up to Leimert Park in L.A. for the annual Kwanzaa parade and festival, sometimes dressed in African garb, and responding to the greeting of “habari gani?” (what’s the news?) with that day’s corresponding principle.

As I have grown older and had a child of my own I have begun to relish this tradition of celebrating Kwanzaa.  Each of the seven principles are things that I strive for – sometimes sucessfully, sometimes not – the focus is on community and family, and the gifts (zawadi) are to either be handmade or educational. 

I continue to celebrate Kwanzaa with my own little family though not as zealously as do my parents.  I’ve been a little lax in decorating for and commemorating Kwanzaa in the past, but this year, I believe I’ll set up my kinara, lay my ears of corn (muhindi) on the table and talk to Lovegirl about the seven principles and our family goals for 2010.

So, if you were wondering who in the heck celebrates Kwanzaa, now you know – I do!  I’m going to leave you with the seven principles.  You never know – you might want to incorporate them into your daily life in the ’10!

Nguzo Saba (7 Principles)

Dec. 26 – Umoja – Unity
Dec. 27 – Kujichagulia – Self Determination
Dec. 28 – Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility
Dec 29 – Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics
Dec. 30 – Nia – Purpose
Dec. 31 – Kuumba – Creativity
Jan. 1 – Imani – Faith

Harambee! Harambee! Harambee! (All pull together)


15 thoughts on “Habari gani?

  1. My auntie celebrates Kwanzaa and decorates her house for the holiday. My sister even went to some Kwanzaa celebrations with her ex’s family, but I’ve never really thought about it too much. I’m going to print this out so I can talk to my aunt about it and use the right words.

  2. Habari Gani!
    We celebrated Kwanzaa about twice when I was growing up, but this year we’re doing it way big. My sorority has a big Kwanzaa celebration, so I’m very excited.

  3. I haven’t participated in Kwanzaa celebrations since my college days. For whatever reason, I never really got ‘into’ it. I’m not trying to be a Debrecia Downer but reading this post made me recall that small tidbit of information. 🙂

  4. It warms the cockles of my heart to know that you relish/cherish our teachings and celebrating Kwanzaa.

    We can do it again this year.

    Harambee x 7!

  5. That’s cool! We celebrated one year and learned all about it but we’ve never been hard core into it. I’m glad you’re introducing it to your daughter!

  6. Injama. Asante. Habara Gani?

    (I’ve never celebrated Kwanzaa, but the poetry set I used to go to in college we greeted each other in KiSwahili and that’s how I know the phrase). You’re taking me back on here today!

  7. D.I.D. – My parents celebrate both and have for a long time. I don’t think one negates the other. Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday and the principles are pretty “universal” and shouldn’t offend anyone’s religious beliefs whatever they may be. If you want a little more info, feel fee to email me at azatbailey@live.com and we can discuss. Be well!

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