December 26, 2013

Nguzo Saba: The Seven Principles


Villagers, I created this blog in order to inform and uplift people of African descent. Too often we are bombarded with negative images of what it means to be Black in America and throughout the diaspora. My hope is that the Electronic Village provides an outlet for us to share some self-love, self-respect and self-determination. I am hopeful that you will become engaged through your village voice to share your thoughts on the posts that we provide each day.



While the Nguzo Saba are commonly linked to the yearly Kwanzaa celebration, they have year-round applicability. I'm sharing these seven principles in the hopes that we can refer to them often over the coming weeks and months.
  1. UMOJA (00-MOE-JAH) UNITY - The first principle is a commitment to the idea of togetherness. This principle is a foundation; for without unity, neither the family nor the community can survive. National African American unity begins with the family. Open discussions of family problems and their probable solutions are very important.
  2. KUJICHAGULIA (CO-GEE-CHA-GOO-LEE-AH) SELF-DETERMINATION - The second principle is a commitment to building our lives in our own images and interests. If we, as a people, are to achieve our goals we must take the responsibility for that achievement upon ourselves, for self-determination is the essence of freedom. This day calls for a reaffirmation of our commitment to struggle for all people of African descent, particularly those of us here in America, to build a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
  3. UJIMA (00-GEE-MA) COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY - The third principle encourages self-criticism and personal evaluation, as it relates to the common good of the family/community. Without collective work and struggle, progress is impossible. The family and the community must accept the reality that we are collectively responsible for our failures, as well as our victories and achievements. Discussions concerning each family member's responsibility prove helpful in defining and achieving family goals.
  4. UJAMAA (00-JAH-MAH) COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS - Out of the fundamental concepts of "African Communal Living" comes the fourth principle of Kwanzaa. In a community or family, wealth and resources should be shared. On the national level, cooperative economics can help African Americans take physical control of their own destinies. On this day, ideas should be shared and discussed for cooperative economic efforts to provide for needs as related to housing, education, food, day care, health, transportation and other goods and services.
  5. NIA (NEE-AH) PURPOSE - The fifth day of Kwanzaa is a day for reviewing our purpose for living. Each family member should examine his/her ability to put his/her skill or talent to use In the service of the family and community at large. Take time to reflect on your expectations from life: discuss your desires and hopes with family and friends. On this day you should try to determine if this purpose will eventually result in positive achievements for family and community.
  6. KUUMBA (KOO-M-BAH) CREATIVITY - The sixth principle of the Nguzo Saba relates to building and developing our creative potential. It involves both aesthetic and material creations. It is essential that creativity be encouraged in all aspects of African American culture. It is through new ideas that we achieve higher levels of living and a greater appreciation for life. Each family member should find creative things to do throughout the year that will enhance the family as a whole. On this day, poetry reading, songfests, dance exhibitions and the like, can aid in promoting the importance of Kuumba.
  7. IMANI (E-MAH-NE) FAITH - The seventh principle is belief in ourselves as individuals and as a people. Further, it is a commitment to the development of the family and the national African American community. African America's goal of freedom rests significantly on our belief in our own ability and right to control our own destiny. Without Imani (faith), there is no possibility of victory.
Villagers, we will discuss each of these seven principles throughout the coming year. Perhaps you can begin the discussion by sharing your village voice on the Nguzo Saba. What say u? Which principle(s) are particularly meaningful in your life?

26 comments:

the teach said...

Villager, while I don't celebrate Kwanzaa I'm glad to learn more about it. Thanks, Wayne! Happy New Year to you and yours!

Villager said...

Teach - I appreciate your continuous and consistent support during this first year of my blogging efforts. I wish you and yours a wonderful new year!

zeeska said...

Like the teach I don't celebrate Kwanzaa. I live in the Caribbean, Trinidad to be exact. Although, I am of African descent, I have deep appreciation and respect for all the other races and cultures in my bloodline. So, my contributions will be based on strictly on principle.

Kwanzaa is entirely new to me but the principles are not. Interestingly, I observed the candlestick. Could you explain the significance of the candle labeled "KUJICHAGULIA" and if any significance was intended by its central position.

zeeska said...

Happy New Year one and all!

Villager said...

Zeeska - I'm grateful to you for taking time to visit our village. I don't think that there is any special relevance to having kujichagulia and the black candle tied together.

During Kwanzaa candles are placed in a special candleholder called the Kinara. There are seven candles (Mishumaa Saba) used, each representing one of the Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa. The colors of the candles are red, green, and black which are the colors of the Bendera (or African Flag). The Mishumaa Saba consists of a single black candle, 3 red and 3 green candles.

When putting the candles in the Kinara, the 3 red candles are placed on the left side. The 3 green candles are placed on the right. The single black candle is placed in the center and is the candle which will be lit first. On each day of Kwanzaa a new candle will be lit as a symbol of the Kwanzaa Nguzo or principle of that day. The candles will be lit in alternating colors. First the black candle is lit, then the farthest left red candle, then the farthest right green candle, then the next red, then next green, then the last red, and then the final green.

The honor of lighting the candles depends on the family itself. As there are no rules as to who lights the candles, many families give the honor to the youngest child. Some give it to the eldest family member. And others share the duties, with a different family member lighting the candles each night.

FIGAHJCW said...

I've celebrated Kwanzaa for years in different homes and communities and appreciate your sharing the information. Please note the image you selected has the candles in the wrong order. They alternate from left to right after lighting the center black candle for Umoja. Then the first green one on the left for Kujichagulia (my favorite), then the first red one on the right for Ujima, back to green for Ujamaa, red for Nia, green for Kuumba and finally last red for Imani.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing! I have been doing a principle every day on my blog. I do celebrate Kwanzaa and have been since I was a child. Thanks for sharing your invaluable information with all of us! =)

Poetic Sista said...

PEACE AND BLESSINGS! My family has always recognized Kwanzaa and over the years we have always recognized the seven principles and held family discussions about each principle on its respective day. But this year was special we celebrated Kwanzaa in full, we did not honor the commercialism of Christmas nor did we abide by rules by putting up a Christmas tree and decorations. We celebrate Christ daily this one day Christmas thing is really played out and just as we celebrate Christ daily, our family has made a pledge to celebrate and incorporate the seven principles of Kwanzaa daily. ITS A BEAUTIFUL THING, ALL PEOPLE SHOULD RECOGNIZE THE FULFILLING PEACE IN ACKNOWLEDGING AND EXERCISING THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES...

MAY YOUR JOURNEY BE PEACEFUL AND BLESSED!

Villager said...

Jennifer - I don't recall visiting your blog before. You've done a remarkable job on SerenityLife's Blog. For what it's worth, your blog is currently ranked #134 (out of 600) on the Black Blog Rankings.

I wanted to do the daily tribute to Kwanzaa on my blog as well, however, my vacation here in Los Angeles made it impossible for me to post daily this Kwanzaa week.

Villager said...

Poetic Sista - I am truly moved by your family's commitment to rid yourself of the commercialism of Christmas while embracing the powerful principles of Kwanzaa. My hope is to reflect on the 7 principles regularly though the year ... not just this 7-day Kwanzaa period.

Anyhow, I'm grateful that you had chance to visit with us today. Harambee!

Villager said...

FIGAHJCW - Thank you for sharing the knowledge about the kinara and the candle-lightning process. I'm hopeful to refer back to this post often over the coming weeks and months as we reflect on the 7 principles throughout the year ... not, just Kwanzaa week.

PurpleZoe said...

Thankyou for this post. Kwanzaa is a beautiful tradition.

PurpleZoe said...

Almost forgot.

HAPPY (almost) NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May it be brilliant and full of long awaited blessings.

Thankyou for all you do for the conscious community.

Shelia said...

Happy New Year Villager!! I hope that the upcoming year is incredible for you and your family.

I came into the real knowledge of Kwanzaa when my husband went to seminary, many moons ago. While we never altered our existing Christmas traditions, we did add some of those of Kwanzaa.

At this time of year my family tends to talk about purpose. We look at who and what we've been in the current year and how that will change with growth in the coming year. We remind our children that you must be purposeful daily as well has have a specific purpose in life; and that continuously feeding their spirit and having faith will help them to establish that purpose.

Villager said...

Shelia - Thanks for the kind wishes. I'm confident that 2008 will be a banner year for you and your blog! I appreciate your story about Kwanzaa and the insights you provided on how your family incorporates the principles into your holiday observances.

Purple Zoe - Asante sana for your comments and for your consistent visits to our village in 2007. We hope to maintain your trust as we evolve this blog in the coming new year...

LeAnne@Hairs My Story Team said...

thank you!
hairsmystory.com

Villager said...

LeAnne - My pleasure. I wish you/yours a fantastic new year!

Jennifer said...

@villager - WOW - I had no idea my blog was even ranked?! I was just doing this to spread love. Thanks for giving me some tove (my crazy word for love}.

Keep on inspiring us for you spread knowledge!

{{hugz}}

Happy 2008!

wigginsray said...

I prefer to think of Creativity in the context of how we can be creative in relieving the suffering of man. Personal self-expression is important, but our talents should be better focused not on ourselves, but on others - I think that's the true spirit of Nguzo Saba.

There is a very fine choral work by Glenn Burleigh for Kwanzaa simply titled "The Nguzo Saba Suite" for our friends in NYC, it will be performed at Lincoln Center in March 2010.

Villager said...

WiggingsRay - I don't get out to New York often ... but, I've added the March 2010 event to my tickler file. If nothing else, I hope that I can promote your event on this blog when the time comes...

JacSprat said...

As I commented last year, it would be helpful to use a graphic that displays the principals properly. Umoja is linked to the the center candle wish is what holds all the others together.

Villager said...

JacSprat - Thank you for your persistence with me. I've made the correction to the image used in this annual post about the Nguzo Saba...

www.lynntsai.com said...

Hi there,

I stumbled upon your blog while I was researching for "Nguzo Saba" online. This is an excellent post! Thanks for sharing the details of The Seven Principles!

We are DCINY, a concert production company in NYC - we will be featuring Glenn Burleigh's Nguzo Saba Suite on our concert on March 21. http://www.dciny.org/2010-opportunities/sunday-march-21-2010.html

We would be happy to offer you 2 comp tickets to this concert if you are interested! Please contact me at lynn@dciny.org for more information.

Keep up the great work!!! :)

Villager said...

lynnstai.com - Thank you for the kind words. I live in Cincinnati ... so I wasn't able to take you up on your comp ticket offer. How did the event turn out last month?

Carolyn Moon said...

I, too, have celebrated Kwanzaa for many years, however, in my area I've noticed a decline in the public observances. It's a wonderful tradition and serves to remind us of the importance of community and helping one another.

Peace..love and blessings to fellow observers and welcome to those who have been recently educated about it or would like to begin celebrating the seven principles throughout the year!

As always Bro. Villager you're right on point.

Villager said...

Carolyn - Yes, I've noticed a decline in Kwanzaa activity here in my area as well. Ah well, one of the beauties of running your own blog is that you can use it to promote worthy cultural initiative such as this one!

Anyhow, before we get to celebration of Kwanzaa please accept my sincere wish of 'Merry Christmas' to you, your family and anyone else reading this comment!