Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Kwanza Feast – Karamu

The Kwanza feast - Karamu is celebrated on December 31. There is a prescribed program to be followed when celebrating this occasion. Dr. Karenga set out the steps to be followed. These steps are the same whether the celebration is takes place in a family’s home or in a larger social setting. The following list of activities remains the basic model for this special day.

The Welcoming
The program starts with the ‘welcoming’. The ‘welcoming’ offers an introduction to the upcoming events.

The Remembering, The Reassessment, The Recommitment
Next follows the “remembering” in which everyone reflects upon their culture. After which there is the “reassessment and recommitment” in which an elder or distinguished member gives a short speech on the tenets of Kwanza.

The Rejoicing
Then comes the ‘rejoicing’ followed by the ‘libation statement’. A ‘unity cup’ is passed around to family and guests with each one taking a sip from the cup.

The names of ancestors and well-known heroes and heroines are read, followed by the beating of drums.

The Feasting
Finally, the Karamu feast begins encompassing cultural activities and ends with a final goodbye or farewell statement.

One of the most interesting facets of the Karamu feast is the libation statement. Before the cup is passed around to family and friends, the contents, usually water, is poured in four directions; east, west, north and south.
One is reminded to not only remember past generations but to reflect on future generations as well. It is a reminder to remember one’s cultural heritage and to preserve it going forward

Here are the words that are spoken during the libation part of the ceremony.

For The Motherland, the cradle of civilization.
For the ancestors, and their indomitable spirit
For the elders, from whom we can learn much.
For our youth, who represent the promise for tomorrow.
For our people, the original people.
For our struggle and in remembrance of those who have struggled on our behalf.
For Umoja, the principle of unity, which should guide us in all that we do.
For the creator, who provides all things great and small.

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