>>>This post can also be seen at The Huffington Post:
Kwanzaa is not a religious or political holiday, but a cultural awareness celebration.
Kwanzaa is a Kiswahili (non-tribal) word meaning, “the first fruits of the harvest”. Observing Kwanzaa offers an opportunity for new, yet timeless ways for exploring one’s self, for living in wholeness and prosperity.
Ultimately, I see this as an indigenous approach to wellbeing, which is always my favorite. In my mind, what’s also great about Kwanzaa, is that this is a system that works well for healthy business and relationship mindsets as well.
Candles are lit each day, and one of seven principals are discussed over a 7 day period, which goes from December 26th thru January 1st.
Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a black separatist revolutionary and educator-turned-prolific writer and professor. With any movement that requires radial action, we’ll find controversy, and this is no exception. I personally find the whole story to be an exceptionally interesting one that has the makings of a really great epic drama. It contains struggle, generational trauma, passion, vision, racism, chauvinism, violence, prison, redemption, peace, leadership, idea-hijacking accusations, criticism, higher education, caring, and tenacity.
I think this is the reason Kwanzaa is still around 50 years later. It’s a living event that has similar (or the same) roots and struggles as the culture it celebrates and guides. It’s been a harsh journey, but the destination holds promise and light.
No matter what color or culture you are, and no matter what you feel about these origins, the 7 principals observed each day (see below) are worthy of dialogue and consideration by all of us. The common value found within each is where peace and respect lives.
A more thorough, yet brief, interesting explanation of Kwanzaa can be read here: http://mccchurch.org/heri-za-kwanzaa-2013/
A quick and what seems fair bio on Dr. Karena is here: http://www.biography.com/people/maulana-karenga-21315383#synopsis
–Suzanne Mathis McQueen