The Kwanzaa Feast


Kukaribisha - Welcoming: Introducing and welcoming guests and family to each other and, oftentimes, playing traditional music and games.

Kukumbuka - Remembering: Continuation of music, but with the addition of storytelling by all of the guests.

Kuchunguza tena na kutoa ahadi tena - Reassessment and Recommitment: Usually a speech or story by the eldest or most respected guest or family member.

Kushangilia - Rejoicing: This is where the many of the traditions and symbols come into play. A "grace" (Tamshi la tambiko) is said over the unity cup (Kikombe cha umoja) before it is shared. A remembrance of family members and admired African Americans is said, followed by the eating of the food, usually accompanied by music.

Tamshi la tutaonana - Farewell Statement: At the end of the festivities, a closing sentiment is expressed.

During Karamu and during the whole week of Kwanza, there are many symbols that are used and celebrated. Three colors are repeated: red, green and black. The red stands for the blood of African ancestors. The black stands for the skin color of all the people of African descent. Green is to serve as a remembrance of land, new life and new ideas. There are seven primary symbols that are considered essential to the celebration:

Mazao -- Fruits and vegetables
Mkeka -- A straw place mat
Kinara -- A candle holder for seven candles
Mishumaa Saba -- The seven candles in red, black and green symbolizing Nguzo Saba

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