Habari Gani, Villagers, Habari Gani!! You know what it is by now. So, I'll get right into it. Today's feature is from my girl Yaa Enum. Her story is very personal & 1 I think many of you can relate to, whether it's directly related to Kwanzaa or not. The value of Kwanzaa for Yaa Enum:
Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Ahhhh it’s Kwanzaa time!! Habari Gani??? Today actually is the 5th day which is Nia. I am not going to give a history lesson on Kwanzaa. It is day 5 and by now you’ve already heard it at LEAST 5 times. If you haven’t then Google it. I’d pretty much have to Google, cut & paste to give it to you (Note: that’s how I got the definition of Nia).
I was actually happy when asked to write this because it really made me reflect on the reasons that I celebrate Kwanzaa. My history of celebrating Kwanzaa started when I was a single mom. I was 21 trying to figure out life with a 4 year old child. I worked very hard for us and made many sacrifices to ensure that she had everything that she needed. I also always went the extra mile to make sure that she had the things that she wanted. Christmas was no exception. I’d start around October purchasing, laying items away and putting money aside just so she can have a good and plentiful Christmas. Also, being the only little person in the family, she’d receive a bounty of gifts from my family.
That year was extremely challenging for me on so many levels so I was looking forward to the end of the year, spending time with family, Christmas and her getting gifts. Christmas morning I watched her rip thru wrapping paper tossing aside those gifts that she didn’t like, giving attention to those that she did like for only a few minutes and finally asking if “that was it” (I felt deflated). In her defense, she was 4 years old and I understand that it was totally age appropriate but it was at that moment that I realized that I had to do something different! We weren’t religious folks so… JC wasn’t the reason for the season. I wanted her to understand that things have to have meaning. I just wasn’t sure what meaning I wanted to instill.
That following Fall while at a book fair, I happened upon a children’s book about Kwanzaa. I shared the book with my daughter and I decided that we would incorporate/celebrate it. IMPORTANT TO NOTE… I’d never seen a Kwanzaa celebration and had only heard mentions of it. THIS book was all the information that I had. The book was illustrated…it didn’t even have real pictures but THIS book was going to be my reference for celebrating Kwanzaa.
As the holidays approached I was very nervous. I felt like I was doing something wrong! I only knew that I HAD TO DO IT!! I can’t really explain the feeling. I dodged shopping invitations because I’d decided that I was only going to give my daughter 2 or 3 gifts. I wandered around Christmas tree lots with my Mom pretending that every tree was sparse and leaning so that I didn’t have to purchase one. I just didn’t know how to announce it to my family and friends. At home in secrecy my daughter and I (well more ME…she wanted a damn tree w/lights, candy canes etc) “decorated” for Kwanzaa. I had scented candles lined up (I had no idea where to get a kinara or candles) on a kitchen towel near a bowl of fruit (which was also part of her lunch…so by week’s end it was gone). I also had the 3 gifts that I’d purchased on the table (looking back this was quite cruel…making her watch her gifts for 6 days LOL). I remember my Mom coming to visit, seeing at my “decorations” and looking at me like I’d lost my mind. (The following year she showed up at my house with a tree. I took it in protest and propped it up with no tree stand in a corner). I can laugh about it now but I honestly was a nervous wreck that year!! Years following I did find celebrations in the community, I got better with my decorations as we established a way of celebrating at home. I still attended Christmas celebrations with my family and eventually they began to come celebrate with us as well.
If you know me then you know that I don’t wear anything on my sleeve (I CAN WRITE ALL OF THIS BUT I’D NEVER SAY IT OUT LOUD). I am a very private person when it comes to beliefs. I strongly live by “to each his own” and “what ever moves you to being a better human being then go for it”. The principles of Kwanzaa are quite affirming for me. Many years ago the appeal of that children’s book wasn’t about being anti-Christmas it was about the principles. I wanted to teach my child (and future children) about living well, self awareness, the hard work that goes into giving & receiving, living righteously and following their destiny towards those things. I personally found those lessons in the Nguzo Saba & in the spirit of Kwanzaa. Whether they continue to celebrate it is their decision. It is very fitting that Kwanzaa means “first fruits” because through my connections with Kwanzaa, as a mom... I was able to plant the seed in them.
It is sort of appropriate that I’d be asked to contribute this on Nia because not only was this the ONLY principle that I could pronounce that very first Kwanzaa (I AM VERY SERIOUS!), but it was also the principle that sort of moves me the most. The realization that you have PURPOSE. I can now appreciate the decision to follow my spirit the year that I decided to celebrate Kwanzaa. It actually lead me to becoming more interested in African traditions & culture. It lead to me becoming more aware of my community. It has lead to connections with some of the most amazing people that are out here trying to make change in our communities through whatever means (PURPOSE) that they’ve been given. We all have a mission in this life. We are born as individuals with an individual plan that even those that gave birth to us can’t control. Your purpose and your mission might be contrary to what EVERYBODY around you is doing but you have to follow and trust the spirit that is guiding you.
Medase Paa for letting me share!! Blessings to all!!”
--Yaa Enum (aka Big Al from All over the place ☺ )
I'm so excited that this has turned into such a community effort! Ultimately, community is what this is ALL about. I am so very pleased that my friends in word & deed have been willing to share their perspectives with you this year! If you haven't figured it out by now, Kwanzaa is a holiday celebrated during the same Winter season as 2 other prominent holidays, but Kwanzaa is bigger than that. The Nguzo Saba, 7 principles, is a foundation for LIVING. & we must--all of us do this--assess how we're living & what we're living for. I doubt there's a coincidence that this all coincides with the start of a new year. Yaa Enum has shared that this celebration has broadened her Life & its purpose for her & for her children. This is B.I.G., folks. Please believe it. & the 40 million people worldwide who celebrate this holiday only grows annually. You haters can keep hating, but you can see we have so much more behind us than your minimally funny jabs.
Two more days to go.
Watch me move.