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Nov 23rd

Kwanzaa: From Holiday to Every Day by Maitefa Angaza

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Pity the die-hard Christmas lover. She waits all year long to hear her favorite carols. Her tree goes up as soon as is socially acceptable, usually the morning after Thanksgiving. She bakes cookies, addresses cards, and wraps presents for weeks. And on December 26th, the holiday is over. Now consider the Kwanzaa lover: he or she has seven celebrations, one every single night. There are cookies and songs, candles and presents all week long if you want. And, if the ideas in "Kwanzaa: From Holiday to Every Day" by Maitefa Angaza are embraced, Kwanzaa can last every day of the year. Pity the die-hard Christmas lover.

She waits all year long to hear her favorite carols. Her tree goes up as soon as is socially acceptable, usually the morning after Thanksgiving. She bakes cookies, addresses cards, and wraps presents for weeks.

And on December 26th, the holiday is over.

Now consider the Kwanzaa lover: he or she has seven celebrations, one every single night. There are cookies and songs, candles and presents all week long if you want. And, if the ideas in "Kwanzaa: From Holiday to Every Day" by Maitefa Angaza are embraced, Kwanzaa can last every day of the year.

Forty one years ago, in response to unrest in Los Angeles, Kwanzaa was born in the living room of an Oakland apartment. From the beginning, it was decided that the celebration would embrace several facets of African culture, allowing for its adherents to explore their heritage and for families to make their own traditions within the newly-created holiday.

Starting with the day after Christmas and running through the New Year, Kwanzaa highlights The Nguzo Saba, or Seven Principles: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Each day of the week-long Kwanzaa celebration is dedicated to one of the Nguzo Saba.

Your Kwanzaa holidays can be as large or as small as you want, Angaza says, and you can hold a Karamu (feast) on one night or many (although most people have some sort of refreshment every night). You can invite people informally or you can just have your Karamu with family. Angaza includes tips for your fete, as well as many recipes for traditional dishes you might want to serve.

But what about your life starting January 2nd? Angaza says you can continue to honor Kwanzaa's Nguzo Saba by keeping each of the principles in focus year round. Get together with your family often. Know your history, both personally and culturally. Patronize minority businesses by shopping at the stores in your neighborhood. Share your knowledge with the younger generation.

A trip to any bookstore or library will prove that there are thousands of books published on Christmas and Hanukkah, but only a small handful on the subject of Kwanzaa. Because of that, every book that teaches about this important celebration - including this one - is worthy of having on your bookshelf.

Aside from the rich history that author Maitefa Angaza offers in this quick-to-read book, and the thoughtful suggestions she has for keeping Kwanzaa in your life all year, I liked the stories she shared and I thought the resources listed in this book are amazingly comprehensive. Angaza tells you where you can get traditional African cloth, gifts, books and music; where you can go to celebrate with a large community; and where you can call or visit to get even more information.

Celebrate Kwanzaa for seven days, but don't stop there. Pick up a copy of "Kwanzaa: from Holiday to Every Day" and make your Karamu last well into the New Year and beyond.

"Kwanzaa: From Holiday to Every Day" by Maitefa Angaza
c.2007, Kensington $14.00 / $17.50 Canada 288 pages, includes resources

 

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