For those of you who do not celebrate Kwanzaa I invite you to explore the possibility.
This uplifting, mindful holiday can be a powerful way to end the old year and begin the next- and when celebrated intentionally, it can spur real growth at an individual, family and community level.
Created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa honors African American heritage and culture by focusing on 7 core principles. Each principle has one dedicated day – from December 26th through January 1st.
1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and
2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create
and speak for ourselves.
3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community
together, making our brothers’ and sisters’ problem OUR problems – and working to
solve them together.
4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops and
businesses – and profit from them together.
5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our
community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
6. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to
leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than it was when we inherited it.
7. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers,
our leaders – and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
This year your Reporter Newspaper caught up with celebrators on two of the seven days – Ujamma and Kuumba.
Hosted by the Akron National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Ujaama Kwanzaa celebrators packed the Buchtel Community Learning Center’s luncheon area.
NAACP member Dr. Lathardus Goggins II was masters of ceremony, working alongside NAACP board member Hazel Malone. The two shared in the programs History & Purpose of Kwanzaa, along with Libation pouring of liquid ritual.
These are the offering in memory of those who were instrumental to our lives, those who are no longer with us. Along with it are African Proverbs or other phrases of meaning and purpose.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Marcus Garvey, and Sojourner Truth – the names were blurted throughout the room, followed by phrases such as “A Mind without Motivation is like a Future without Hope” or “You can’t live like the Devil and expect to die a Saint.” Each name or phrase was followed by the word “Ashe” meaning “So be it.”
One of the most inspirational things about Kwanzaa is the strong teaching ethics and strong and often chastising words often from the elders.
With the day focusing on Ujamaa, the Akron community got an ear full when Elder begin to share how shameful it was to allow a black business “Henry’s Acme” force to be closed due to lack of support from the community.
“John Smith stood shouting, “It’s a shame we got this man in our community with a nice grocery business and all we can do is complain about his prices – rather than reasoning with him and doing what we can to keep him, we stop supporting him; that a shame.”
Others conversed about the African shops that once beautified the Akron communities. “We forced them out of business by not supporting them, and now we go give our money to outsiders,” someone shouted.
One thing that was pleasing to the eye was the young entrepreneurs present, who showed what they learned about starting their own businesses. Young Hayden Calmese of “Hayden’s Boutique,” stood along side her mother Candace.
“My business is about selling monogrammed cups and other glassware and I’m selling these items to raise money for a school field trip,” said the 12-year old from Akron.
Nathan Edwards stood proud behind his Pop Corn Machine selling his “Nathan’s Poppin’ Pop Corn.” “I attend Emmanuel Christian Academy and my proceeds will go towards buying more supplies to keep my business going.” He described Kwanzaa as “An African Christmas.”
Young Demetrius Goggins stood before the crowd sharing why he wanted to be an entrepreneur. “My dad was and entrepreneur and I saw him selling and making a lot of money,” he said drawing laughter and applause.
The 9-year old’s business “Snack Shack,” was selling Kool-Aid drinks and assortments of chips.
Akron NAACP President Judi Hill shared “If we don’t keep lifting our young people up then we will fail.”
She claimed to love most the chastisement about the loss of Henry’s Acme saying, “How dare us not support those entities that are within our community – stop with the excuses – these young kids tonight are our opportunity to support; No More Excuses!”