How Kwanzaa Helped Center My Soul for 2017

The continuous shootings of unarmed African Americans and the 2016 elections were enough to stress anyone out in 2016. On top of that, too many people went through issues that effected either their personal or professional lives.  

Then came December. Everyone was anxiously counting down the days until Christmas and the new year. I was too, but I also took part in Kwanzaa. After a year of losing friends and having some strange interactions, I needed some way to end the year strong with. I needed a way to focus on the good I’ve done, instead of the negative I’ve encountered.

Here comes Kwanzaa. 

For those who don’t know, (and I’m not sure how), Kwanzaa is a seven-day, African American holiday, created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga that celebrates African heritage and culture. Each day is dedicated to a principle: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (working together/cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). 

As a way to end 2016 and start 2017 with a new beginning, I used the seven days of Kwanzaa to reflect on myself, my goals, and my desires in life. Each day I gave thanks and acknowledge the people and the organizations that helped shape me. I also used those seven days to take a look back at what I accomplished and what I want for myself and my community. 

Umoja: I gave thanks to the my friends and family who stuck by me. I also gave thanks to Donda’s House and sent prayers to my friend who recently had a family member murdered.

Kujichagulia- I honored all the opportunities I worked hard for and everything I created. 

Ujima- I acknowledge my need to uplift the world with music, journalism, and my personality.

Ujamaa- I acknowledged black owned/minority-owned businesses.

Nia- I recognized my purpose in life. 

Kuumba- I celebrated my creative side and how I express myself. 

Imani- I ended Kwanzaa and gave hope to the first day of the new year by putting faith and confidence into the universe. 

I didn’t have a mkeka (place mat) or kinara with red, black, and greens candles, but I felt the spirit of Kwanzaa. I didn’t exchange gifts with anyone physically, I did, however, let go go my anger and embraced the light and spirit in me. Starting each day by expressing my gratitude for everything I have with a different principle in mind dissolved every negative thought I had before. Taking part in the Kwanzaa celebration, I was able to get a lot off my chest, and going into the new year, I was able to start 2017 light hearted, relaxed, and open to change. Kwanzaa has helped me center my soul and align my chakras. 

Although Kwanzaa has passed, I suggest everyone look at each principle and find one thing you can identify with it. It will change your mindset, trust me.