Bookish peeps! I’ve missed you all and this space!
Today is the start of my favorite holiday – Kwanzaa!
Kwanzaa is a Pan-African holiday that Dr. Maulana Karenga started in 1966 after the Watts riots in LA. This holiday is built around multiple African harvest or “first fruit” celebrations, including cultural festivals from the Ashanti and Zulu people.
Kwanzaa can be celebrated alongside other Winter holidays. It lasts for a week from December 26 to January 1 and can be celebrated in whatever way you and your family and friends decide.
All that’s required is that you honor the Nguzo Saba, which are the seven principles of Kwanzaa, one for each night.
Our goal for Umoja is “to strive for a principled and harmonious togetherness in the family, community, nation, and across the African Diasporic community.”
The Adinkra symbol for Umoja is the Kramo Bone. The Kramo Bone translates to “The bad make it difficult for the good to be noticed.” This Adinkra symbol symbolizes “warning against deception and hypocrisy.”
To promote unity, we must be aware and guard against those who are not actively seeking to do good for the race as a whole and make sure all our goals actively align to have the greatest impact for the majority opposed to the minority of the race in our fight against oppression.
One of my favorite Kwanzaa traditions for Kwanzaa is reading the Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story, written by Angela Shelf Mederais and illustrated by Daniel Minter. This year, I’ve also added The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson and illustrated by Nikolas Smith to my list of Kwanzaa reads.
Mederais’ story is a children’s book set in Ghana that tells the story of seven brothers who are tasked with making gold out of seven spools of thread to gain their inheritance from their father.
Seven Spools of Thread is a great representation of what Umoja means. Working alongside the people you love working through your differences, and building up your community to be even stronger than you initially found is a hallmark of Kwanzaa.
A person is a person through other persons. None of us comes into the world fully formed. We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings unless we learned it from other human beings.We need other human beings in order to be human. I am because other people are. A person is entitled to a stable community life, and the first of these communities is the family.” ― Desmond Tutu
Born on the Water is a reminder of the strength of being born Black in America. We are a people who were given nothing but took those meager scraps and built a rich heritage that is often imitated but rarely duplicated.
Hannah-Jones and Watson’s book reminds me of the proverb that the Kramo Bone’s meaning stems from, is built off of, even though all the “the bad” African-Americans have been through in this country, Kwanzaa is a time where we can sit up and reflect on how those “difficult” times helped us notice how “the good.”
Regardless of your race or where you are in the world, I hope you’re able to celebrate something good in your life today amongst people you love.
I know we’re all still in this pandemic, and some people struggle to make it through. But, in this coming year, I hope you all can lean on your communities or find people who help you build back even stronger than you were in this pre-Covid era.
I hope you all will join me for this weeklong celebration of Kwanzaa.
To enter today’s giveaway for a copy of Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story and Born on the Water, tell me what your favorite holiday memory or book is in the comment section below.
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The giveaway is open to all subscribers worldwide if the Book Depository or Bookshop.org delivers to your country.
The giveaway ends Monday, January 3.
Made of Gold – Ibeyi & Pa Salieu
When We Move (ft. Black Thought, Seun Kuti) – Common
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